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Cahn, Claude; Carlisle, Kathryn D. ; Fregoli, Claudia,* 
Kiuranov, Deyan; Petrova, Dimitrina 

Campland: Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy. Country 
Reports Series. 

European Roma Rights Center, Budapest, Hungary. 

ERRC-9 

ISBN-963-00-4052-2 
ISSN- 1416-7409 
2000 - 10-00 
115p . 

European Roma Rights Center, 1386 Budapest 62, P.O. Box 
906/93, Hungary ($8). Tel: 36-1-428-2351; Fax: 
36-1-428-2356; e-mail: errc@errc.org,* Web site: 
http : //www . errc . org . 

Opinion Papers (120) -- Reports - Descriptive (141) 

MF01/PC05 Plus Postage. 

Civil Liberties; Educational Discrimination; Elementary 
Secondary Education; Equal Education; Equal Opportunities 
(Jobs) ; Foreign Countries,* Minority Groups; Police; * Racial 
Discrimination; ^Racial Segregation; Sexual Abuse; Violence 
Gypsies; * Italy; Racial Harassment; *Roma 



ABSTRACT 



This report addresses racial segregation and human rights 
abuses against Roma in Italy, focusing on: "Anti -Gypsy ism in Italy"; "Roma in 

Italy: Racial Segregation"; "Abuses by Police and Judicial Authorities" 

(e.g., abusive raids and evictions, abusive use of firearms, torture and 
physical abuse, discriminatory targeting of Roma by police, theft by 
authorities, confiscation of papers, sexually abusive searches of women, 
failure to provide proper interpretation to foreign Roma accused of criminal 
acts, threats and police violations of the right of assembly, discrimination 
by judicial authorities, and expelling Roma from Italy); "Violence against 
Roma by Non-State Actors"; "Discriminatory Treatment of Roma in the Provision 
of Public Services"; "Denying Roma the Right to Education in Italy"; "The 
Right to Employment"; and "A Just Settlement: Recommendations of the European 
Roma Rights Center to the Government of Italy." Appended is "From Bad to 
Horrific in a Gypsy Ghetto" (Kathryn D. Carlisle) . A summary in Romani is 
included. (Contains 121 references.) (SM) 



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Racial Segregation 
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PERMISSION TO REPRODUCE AND 
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TO THE EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES 
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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION 
Office of Educational Research and Improvement 
EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES INFORMATION 
j CENTER (ERIC) 

a This document has been reproduced as 
received from the person or organization 
originating it. 

□ Minor changes have been made to 
improve reproduction quality. 

• Points of view or opinions stated in this 
document do not necessarily represent 
official OERI position or policy. 



European Roma Rights Center 



Campland 



Racial Segregation of Roma 
in Italy 



Country Report Series, No. 9. 
* October 2000 



Copyright: © European Roma Rights Center , October 2000 
All rights reserved, 

ISBN 963 00 4052 2 
ISSN 1416-7409 

Graphic Design: Createch Ltd./Judit Kovacs 
Printed in Budapest, Hungary, 

For information of reprint policy, please contact the ERRC 




4 



Table of Contents 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 



Acknowledgments 6 

1. Introduction: Anti-Gypsyism in Italy 8 

2. Roma in Italy: Racial Segregation 13 

3. Abuses by Police and Judicial Authorities 23 

3 . 1 . Abusive Raids, Evictions and Arbitrary Destruction of Property 23 

3.2. Abusive Use of Firearms 34 

3.3. Torture and Physical Abuse 37 

3.4. Discriminatory Targeting of Roma by Police 43 

3.5. Theft by Authorities 43 

3.6. Confiscation of Papers 45 

3.7. Sexually Abusive Searches of Women 45 , 

3.8. Failure to Provide Proper Interpretation to Foreign Roma Accused 

of Criminal Acts 47 

3.9. Failure to Provide Information Concerning Detained Roma 47 

3.10. Threats and Police Violations of the Right of Assembly 48 

3.11. Inadequate Sanction for Officers Who Abuse Their Authority 49 

3.12. Discrimination by Judicial Authorities 50 

3.13. The Follow-up: Expelling Roma from Italy 51 

Roma Rights Photographs from Italy 56 

4. Violence Against Roma by Non-State Actors 72 

5. Discriminatory Treatment of Roma in the Provision of Public Services ... 76 

6. Denying Roma die Right to Education in Italy 78 

7. The Right to Employment 84 

8. Conclusion: Racial Discrimination 87 

9. A Just Settlement: Recommendations of the European Roma Rights 

Center to the Government of Italy 94 

10. Bibliography 98 

11. Appendix: “From Bad to Horrific in a Gypsy Ghetto” by Kathryn D. Carlisle 107 

12. Summary in Romani: E Europako Romano Centro vash e Romenge 

Chachipena Del Raporto pala e Romengi Situacija andi Italija 110 



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Campland : Racial Segregation of Roma iti Italy 



ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 



This report was produced by the staff of the ERRC. Most of the work was 
done by Claude Cahn, Kathryn D. Carlisle, Claudia Fregoli, Deyan Kiuranov 
and Dimitrina Petrova. The following ERRC employees, consultants, interns 
and volunteers also contributed significantly: Istvan Fenyvesi, James Goldston, 
Anne Lucas, Gioia Maiellano, Tatjana Peric, Branimir Plese, Hannah Slavik and 
Veronika Leila Szente. The ERRC is additionally grateful to the following persons, 
without whose invaluable assistance publication of the report would have been 
impossible: Piero Brunello, Giovanna Boursier, Stefano Casu, Carlo Chiaramonte, 
Piero Collacicchi, Nerys Lee, Stefano Montesi, Mariangela Prestipino and Daniell 
Soustre de Condat. 



Introduction: Anti -Gypsyism in Italy 



“I think [this dream of mine] summarises the meaning of my entire life. 

I am the head of an airport. [...] A big plane has touched down and in my capacity of 
airport boss I go to passport control. 

All passengers from the plane are there before me , waiting in line with their passports. 
I suddenly behold a strange figure: an ancient Chinese, dressed in rags yet regal, emitting 
a horrible stink. He is waiting to enter. 

He stands in confrontation, uttering not a word. He doesn't even raise his eyes, totally 
absorbed in himself 

I cast a look at the plate on my desk, certifying that I am the one in charge. But I don't 
know what to do. I am afraid to let him enter, as he is so different from everybody and 
I don't understand him. I am terribly afraid that if I let him in, he will upset my 
conventional life. I start to apologise then , lying and laying bare my own weakness. 

I am lying as children lie. I can't bring myself to accept responsibility. I say: 

You see I am not authorised. Actually, it isn't I who is the boss. I've got to ask the others. ' 

And my head hangs with shame. I then add: 

Wait a moment, Til be back.' 

I go away to make a decision that I am never to make. I go on vacillating and all the 
time I wonder whether he'll be there still when I return. But the worst is that I am not 
sure whether I am more afraid to find him there, or find him gone. 

Thirty years since, I am still pondering this dream. I fully understand that something 
had been wrong with my nose and not with his smell; yet I can not bring myself to go 
back and let him enter, nor learn whether he is there still, waiting. " 

Federico Fellini from I, Bellini 



ERiC 



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Carnpland: Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 



1. INTRODUCTION: ANTI-GYPSYISM IN ITALY 



On May 17, 2000, Mr Paolo Frigerio, mayor of the town of Cernusco sul Naviglio 
in the province of Milan, made a public announcement. According to print press 
and televised media reports, he told journalists and civilians that he would pay five 
million Italian lire (approximately 2500 euros) of public local government money 
to any farmer willing to spray manure on an area where a group of Roma were 
temporarily residing in camper vans in the town. According to the mayor, “a bath 
of manure is the only way to even the score with the Gypsies, an act of justice 
equal to the manure they leave us when they move on.” 1 

Mayor Frigerio has not been alone in his use of anti-Romani hate speech. The 
Lega Nord (Northern League), a prominent political party in Italy, frequently uses 
racist and anti- Romani language in public statements. Mr Umberto Bos si, leader of 
the Lega Nord, distributed fliers during the campaign for recent regional elections 
that stated, “If you don’t want Gypsies, Moroccans and delinquents in your house, 
be the master of your own home in a livable city and vote Lega Nord.” 2 In regional 
elections on April 16, 2000, the centre-right and extreme right, including the Lega 
Nord, garnered a majority. 3 Campaigning - especially campaigning by right-wing 



1 See II Manifesto, May 19, 2000, and Lm Repubblica, May 19, 2000. 

Such statements are not novel. In September 1995, in connection with a public debate concerning 
the housing situation of Roma in Florence, Mr Riccardo Zucconi, local spokesman of the Green 
Party, was reported to have declared that Roma are an infection and that to create new living 
quarters for them would mean spreading the infection to the whole of the Florence area (See II 
Manifesto, September 23, 1995). In early January 1997, the youth section of the Northern League 
reportedly organised a demonstration in Milan against illegal immigrants and “Gypsies”, whom 
they accused of “laying siege” to the city (See Institute of Race Relations, European Race Audit, 
Bulletin No. 23, May 1997, pp. 19-20, citing the Italian daily // Manifesto , January 9, 1997). 

3 The right and centre-right won the April 16, 2000 regional elections by 50.7%, while the left and 
centre-left received 45.1% of the vote. The major centre-right parties united under the Polo coalition 
included: Forza Italia led by Silvio Berlusconi; Lega Nord headed by Umberto Bossi; Alleanza 
Nazionale headed by Gianfranco Fini. The smaller extremist parties united under the same umbrella 
include: CCD (Centro Cristiano Democratico) headed by Pierferdinando Casini; Fiamma Tricolore 
(Tri-Coloured Flame) run by Pino Rauti. The right coalition won eight out of fifteen voting 
regions (Sardinia, Trentino, Friuli, Val d’Aosta and Sicily hold regional elections independent of 





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Introduction: AtUi-Gypsyism in Italy 



parties - featured explicitly anti-Romani messages. For example, in the town of 
Voghera, centre-right candidate Aurelio Torriani distributed fliers intended to 
discredit centre-left candidate Antonella Dagradi with the slogan: “The Gypsies 
will certainly vote for Antonella Dagradi. Do you want to do the same?” And Lega 
Nord supporters chanted what they termed the “Gypsy Prayer” at a recent rally 
led by Lega Nord Member of Parliament Mario Borghezio in the same town. 4 The 
“Gypsy Prayer” goes as follows: “Give us a million a month, the city doesn’t have 
other expenses, put us at the top of the list for a house, because we are nomads, but 
we are sticking around; but we wouldn’t want to be gassed by angry Voghero 
inhabitants.” 5 The text of the “Gypsy Prayer” was distributed on fliers. 6 

Inflammatory statements by Italian politicians fall on fertile ground. Recent 
surveys indicate that Italians dislike and fear Roma, often on the basis of little or no 
experience with them. In a recent report on the fears of children by the official 
regional institution Instituto Ricerche Economico~S ocialt del Piemonte , a survey of 
1521 children aged 8 and 9 revealed that thirty-six percent of respondents who fear 



the rest of Italy and therefore voters in those regions did not participate in the April 16 elections). 
Previous to the elections, the centre-left controlled eleven regions. The centre-left is the Ulivo 
coalition and includes: Democratici di Sinistra headed by Walter Vcltroni (the party of ousted 
Prime Minister Massimo D’Alema); Comunisti Italiani led by Armando Cossuta; and the Verdi 
(Green Party) headed by Luigi Manconi. 

4 MP Borghezio had previously engaged in another racially-motivated attack when he entered a train 
from Milan to Turin and carried out his own “ethnic cleansing” by spraying Nigerian immigrants 
with disinfectant. The incident was filmed and shown on TekPadania, a local northern station 
sponsored by the Lega Nord. A week later, on the same television show, Senator and Lega Nord 
leader Umberto Bossi bluntly refused to apologise on behalf of his party for the “spraying” incident 

3 La Preghiera dello Zingaro: “un bel milione dacci al mese, tanto il Comune non ha altre spesc, 
dacci una casa con priorita, perche siam nomadi ma restiamo qua, non vorremmo pero esscre 
‘gasati’ dai Vogheresi oggi un po’ incazzati.” “Gasati” in Italian, in this context, refers to the gas 
chambers used by Nazis in organised death camps. 

6 Notwithstanding the Italian government’s recent representation that “[anti- racist] legislation applied 
to everyone in Italy” and that, W [w]hen a member of Parliament or the Government made a statement 
which amounted to incitement to racial discrimination [...], criminal action would be taken,” 
(United Nations Human Rights Committee, “Summary record of the 1680 th meeting: Italy”, CCPR/ 
C/SR.1680, 24 September, 1998, para. 4), the £RRC is unaware of any public official who has 
been officially criticised - let alone brought to justice — for any act of racial incitement against 
Roma or other minorities. 



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Campland: Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 



open spaces (60% of all children), stated that they did so because of “drug addicts, 
Gypsies and Morrocans”. 7 Eighty-two percent of respondents stated that their fears 
were based on information that they had received from their parents and teachers or 
otherwise indirectly. 8 Similarly, in October 1999, the Documentation Centre for 
Solidarity with Nomads of the Sant’Egidio religious community conducted a survey 
of approximately two hundred people in the Lombardy region, including the 
question, “Are you in favour of the authorised installation of camps for nomads in 
the region?” Approximately seventy percent of respondents were opposed. Grounds 
provided by respondents for disapproval included, “They steal”; “They are dirty”; 
“They steal children”; and “I don’t know.” 9 

Anti-Romani stereotypes are also widespread in Italy today. 10 A popular evening 
television gameshow, “La Zingara” has been broadcast since the mid-1990s. The 
Zingara is a fortune- telling woman who conducts the program by turning over 
cards and asking callers to fill in the second half of an Italian proverb. Successful answers 
are rewarded with money. There is a moon in the background of the set and a rustic- 
looking caravan behind. The “Zingara” wears colourful clothing and gigantic earrings. 
A mysterious laugh begins and ends each episode. In Italian lore, Roma are rumoured 
to have made the nails used to crucify Jesus, steal children and generally wreak havoc 
and evil. 11 In Italian, there are many anti-Romani or stereotyping idioms. For example, 
in the dialect of Rome, it is common to say, “sei proprio uno zingaro” (“you’re such a 
Gypsy ), to accuse someone of stealing, lying or generally being untrustworthy. In 
various regional dialects, telling someone that they “dress like a Gypsy” is a way of 
saying they need to wash or that they dress poorly. Ninety- two of 1521 children 
taking part in the survey by the Instituto Ricerche Economico-Sociali del Piedmonte 
stated, without being prompted, that they feared Gypsies because “they steal children”. 12 



7 See Miceli, Renato, “Sicurezza e paura”, Working Paper #127, October 1999, Torino: Instituto 
Ricerche Economico-Sociali del Piemonte, http://www.ires.piemonte.it/EP04.htm, p.54. 

8 Ibid., p.57. 

See Working Paper of Biblioteca di Solidarieta per I Nomadi, unpublished. 

Italians usually use the negatively burdened word “zingari” when referring to Roma and Sinti. 
See Soustre de Condat, Darnell, Rom, una cultura ncgata, Palermo: City of Palermo, 1997, p.13. 

12 See Miceli, Op. cit. } p.56 



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Introduction: Anti-Gypsyism in Italy 



Underpinning the Italian government’s approach to Roma is the conviction 
that Roma are “nomads”. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, ten out of the twenty 
regions in Italy adopted laws aimed at the “protection of nomadic cultures” through 
the construction of segregated camps. 13 This project rendered official the perception 
that all Roma and Sinti are nomads and can only survive in camps, isolated from 
Italian society. 14 As a result, many Roma have effectively been forced to live out 
the romantic and repressive projections of Italians; Italian authorities assert that 
their desire to live m flats or houses is inauthentic and relegate them to “camps for 
nomads”. Twenty-year-old Ms M.D. is a member of an Italian Sinti family which 
lives in caravans and travels, spending the winter in Italy and the summer in Germany 
and Switzerland; but when asked by the ERRC whether she would like to go on 
living like that, she replied: “No, we want houses and a life like yours.” 13 This 
statement and numerous similar ones however fall on deaf ears when presented to 
Italian authorities and non-Romani Italians alike. For example, an Italian delegate 
told the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Geneva in 
March 1999 that Roma, as natural nomads, “preferred to stay in their camps.” 16 



13 Regional Law 299/89 of Lombardy, for instance, was entitled “Regional Action for the Protection of 
Populations with Nomadic or Semi-Nomadic Traditions”. A similar 1994 law in the Marche region is 
“Interventions in Favour of Migrants, Immigrants, Refugees, Stateless Persons, Nomads and Their 
Families”. In 1991, a circular to local police directorates on “Nomadic Settlements, Gypsies and Non- 
European Citizens”, with the signature of the Head Prefect of the Ministry of the Interior, began by 
reminding the police of “the age-old problem of nomadic people”. The circular went on to describe 
“the difficulties of full integration” and then ordered “a deep and systematic survey of the major 
nomadic, Gypsy and non-European settlements” in Italy. It ended by requesting that a full report on 
each province be sent to the anti-crime division of the Central Police Office (See Circolare No. 4/91 
N. 559/4431 23/ A-200420/1 6/2/ 1/1, January 18, 1991). The government funds predominandy non- 
Romani organisations to act as go-betweens for the government and Roma. First and foremost among 
such organisations is “Opera Nomadi” (“Nomad Works” or “Charitable Mission for Nomads”), founded 
by a priest named Don Bruno Niccolini; the organisation has now for the most part lost its religious 
character, but has kept its name and its authority in the eyes of the government. 

14 The Italian media uses “nomad”, “Gypsy” and “Rom” interchangeably, but “nomad” generally 
appears in headlines. One Italian journalist told the ERRC that it was “catchier” as a term. 

13 European Roma Rights Center interview with Ms M.D., January 29, 1999, Mestre. In many instances 
throughout this report, the ERRC has withheld the name of the interviewee. The ERRC is prepared 
to disclose names if the interests of justice so require. 

16 Mr Luigi Citarella, Head of the Italian Delegation to the 54th Session of the Committee on the 
Elimination of Racial Discrimination, March 9, 1999, Geneva. 



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Campland : Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 



The “nomad” theory is used time and again as the justification for excluding Roma 
from die responsibility for decision-making normally afforded adult human beings. 

The description of Roma as “nomads” is not only used in the service of segregating 
and infantilising Roma, but also in order to reinforce the popular idea that Roma are 
not Italians and do not belong in Italy. The overweening anthropological sensitivity 
of Italian authorities runs only negatively, when it is a question of establishing Roma 
as an integral part of Italian society. As such, government offices addressing issues 
related to Roma are called “Offices of Nomad Affairs” and fall under the competence 
of the Department of Immigration. Similarly, the existence of local administrative 
offices for “Nomads and Non-Europeans” indicates that Roma are commonly 
perceived as foreigners and vagrants in the eyes of Italian authorities. These offices 
are responsible also for local, non-immigrant Italian Roma and Sinti. 

In response to a steady stream of reports of anti-Romani hate speech by prominent 
Italian politicians, as well as disturbing reports of frequent police violence against 
Roma by Italian police and other security forces, the ERRC initiated research in 
Italy in 1997 with a brief exploratory field mission. From 1998 to the present, the 
ERRC has conducted regular monitoring in Italy, with a monitor in the North and 
a monitor in Rome, also competent for southern Italy. In January 1999, the ERRC 
conducted an extensive field mission in Italy. Additionally, the ERRC maintains 
regular contact with various Italian non-governmental organisations working in 
the field of Roma Rights. This report is based on these manifold research efforts. 

The chapters of this report are organised as follows: after the introduction, ERRC 
presents a brief history of Roma in Italy, a history which has led to racial segregation 
today. Next, documentation of abuses by Italian authorities is presented, including 
extreme abuses such as killings of Roma by police officers. The ERRC notes 
widespread destruction of Romani property and homes by authorities and 
documents recent heightened actions by Italian authorities to expel Roma from 
Italy. The fourth chapter addresses instances of abuse by non-state actors, as well as 
discrimination, especially in access to public services. Next, the report examines 
abuses of Roma rights in the areas of education and employment. By way of 
conclusion, the ERRC examines Italian government efforts in the fight against racial 
discrimination, especially in the wake of strongly worded criticism in March 1999 
by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination 
(CERD). The report concludes with specific recommendations to the Italian 
government to improve its record in the area of Roma rights. 



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Roma in Italy: Racial Segregation 



2 . ROMA IN ITALY: RACIAL SEGREGATION 



Roma first arrived in Italy from the east having originally left India, probably 
around the 10th century AD, and entered Europe through the Balkans toward 
the end of the 14th century. 17 The first record of Roma on the territory of Italy 
dates back to the beginning of the 1400s. 18 The first Roma to arrive in Italy were 
unspecified “Cingani” — Gypsies, in the words of the chroniclers of the day — 
who appeared in the Alps in the north and in the south, probably arriving via the 
Adriatic sea from Greece. 19 Documentation indicates that Romani communities 
were already established in the Abruzzo and Molise regions in south-central Italy 
by the 1400s. 20 Found along with some of the first records of the arrival of Roma 
in Italy, however, are the first records of expulsion and persecution, for example, 
decrees stating that it was not a crime to “burn or kill Gypsies,” such as the one 
issued by Maximilian I in 1500. 21 

The idea of the “dirty Gypsy” has historically been embedded in the Italian 
conception of Roma. In the past, in some areas of Italy, cholera was called “lo 
Zingaro” or “the Gypsy”. 22 Into the 20th century, Roma have been associated with 
disease in Italy; on August 21, 1910, the Ministry of the Interior distributed a 
circular decree ordering the “surveillance, isolation and disinfecting of Gypsies in 
the Kingdom due to the suspicion that the outbreak of cholera in the Province of 



17 See especially Fraser, Angus, The Gypsies, Oxford: Blackwell, 1992, pp. 45-83. 

18 See Dragutinovic, Ratko, I Kaitjarija. Storia vissuta dei Rom Dasikhane in Italia , Torino: Multimage, 
2000, p.9. 

19 See Scalia, Guiseppe, Im tutella delle minorawqe linguistiche, Rome: Ministry of Interior, 1993, 
p.58; and Piasere, Leonardo, II fenomeno della migraqjone in riferimento alle dijjtcolta di adattamento 
sociale delle componenti nomadi, Rome: Istituto internazionale di studi giuridici, undated around 
1986-1989. 

20 See Geraci, Salvatore, Bianca Maisano and Fulvia Motta, Salute Zingara , Anterem, Rome: 1998, p.25. 

21 See Liperi, Felice, In viaggio da quasi mille anni, Rome: La Repubblica Disco del Mese, edizioni La 
Repubblica, 1995, p.14. 

22 See Piasere, 'Leonardo, Popoli delle discariche. Saggi di antropologia qingara, Roma, CISU, 1991, p.183. 



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Campland: Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 



Bari was caused by their arrival” 23 Following the decree, a group of Roma were 
disinfected and expelled from Italy. 24 

Discrimination has burdened Roma throughout their history in Italy. In Bologna, 
during the plague of 1630, ill Roma were not allowed into the hospitals under a 
local government decree. 23 In 1663, a decree in Milan allowed for the “murder of 
Gypsies and the stripping of personal goods (from their cadavers) without 
punishment.” 26 Hostility towards Roma became significantly more programmatic 
at the end of the 19th and in the early 20th centuries. Common suspicions and fears 
were exploited by anthropologists who articulated an image of the dangerous nomad, 
disrespectful of frontiers, lazy and thieving, as opposed to the good Italian, purported 
to be a patriotic and hardworking home-body. 27 Psychiatrists and jurists added 
their weight to this picture. For example, Lombroso, a famous and widely-read 
criminologist, wrote, “Gypsies are a race of criminals, who easily murder for 
money.” 28 Capobianco, an influential judge, wrote in 1914 urging severe measures 
to control “the Gypsy”, adding that, “he is more like an animal than a man, full of 
primitive and ferocious instincts.” 29 

After World War I, immigration brought another 7,000 Roma to Italy. In the 
early years following their arrival in Italy, the economic life of these groups primarily 
centred around door-to-door services such as metal repair and polishing. 30 Hundreds 
of thousands of Roma perished during the Holocaust. Italian 1938 race laws did 



23 See Piasere, Popoli, Op. cit., p.184. 

24 Colocci, Adriano, written notes from Primo congresso di etnografia italiana, Torino, 1912. 

25 See Piasere, Popoli ', Op. cit., p.l 83-184. 

26 See Scalia, Op. cit., p.58. 

27 See, for example, Colocci, Adriano, Gli gingari. Storia di un popolo errante, Torino, 1889. 

28 Lombroso, C., L’uomo delinquents, Pavia, 1876. 

29 See Capobianco, A., II probltma di una gente ragabonda in lotta con la legge, Napoli, 1914, quoted 
in Narciso, Loredana, La maschera e il pregiudifo, Roma: Melusina, 1990. 

30 See Dragutinovic, Op. cit., p.10. 

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Roma in Italy: Racial Segregation 



not include Roma on the same level as Jews, but many Roma and Sinti were interned 
during the war in several concentration camps in various parts of Italy, where they 
suffered from very harsh living conditions. 31 Although Roma in Italy were spared 
the full intensity of the genocide, 32 many Roma today in Italy are direct descendants 
of victims and the memory of the Holocaust continues to weigh on the whole 
Romani community. Approximately 40,000 Roma came to Italy during the Italian 
economic boom of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. 33 More recendy, the troubles in the 
former Yugoslavia have brought additional Roma to Italy. The arrival of newcomers 
reified the identity of “Sinti Rom” 34 in Italy - especially northern Italy, as the 
original and native Italian Roma. 

There are no accurate figures on the current number of Roma in Italy. One 
official count puts the number at 130,000, but the methodology used to determine 
this figure is not known to the ERRC. 35 In 1995, the London-based non- 
governmental organisation Minority Rights Group put the figure at 90,000- 



31 See Karpati, Mirella, “La politica fascista verso gli zingari”, in Lacio Drom, II, 1984; Masserini, 
Annamaria, Storia dei nomadi, Edizioni G.B., 1990; Boursier, G., “Zingari internati durante il 
fascismo” in UaHa Romani, Vol II, C.I.S.U., 1999. 

32 See Kenrick, Donald and Grattan Puxon, Gypsies under the Swastika, Hertfordshire: University of 
Hertfordshire Press, 1995, especially pp. 106-108. 

33 See Geraci, Maisano and Motta, Op. at., p.25. 

34 Sinti speak the Sinti dialect of the Romani language. In Italy, Sinti distinguish themselves from 
Roma through reference to their arrival in Northern and Central Italy in the late 14th century 
(See Soustre de Condat, Daniell, Rom — una cultura negata, City of Palermo: 1997, p.33). Sinti in 
Italy are traditionally known as horse trainers and performers, and families such as Orfei continue 
in the circus tradition today. Other famous Sinti circus families include the Togni, Carbonari, 
Zavatta, Arata, Zorzan and Triberti. Most non-Roma/Sinti in Italy do not recognise a distinction 
between the two groups and regard them as one. 

33 One representative of the Italian delegation to the United Nations Committee on Economic, 
Social and Cultural Rights, which reviewed Italy’s compliance with the Covenant on May 3, 2000, 
told the Committee that Italy “had 130,000 registered Roma, 80,000 of them Italian citizens, who 
were free to go wherever they wished.” Another representative of the same delegation, however, 
stated that determining the precise number of Roma in Italy was difficult because “There was, in 
fact, no precise definition of the term ‘Roma’ since it covered more than 100 different minorities 
with various origins and languages.” See “Summary Record of the 6th Meeting: Italy (E/C. 12/ 
2000/SR.6), 3 May 2000.” 



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Campland: Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 



110, 000. 36 Local non-governmental organisations estimate that there are presently 
60,000-90,000 Italian Romani citizens and 45,000-70,000 Roma born outside Italy 
or born in Italy to immigrant parents, mainly from Eastern Europe, especially 
the former Yugoslavia. 57 When prominent Italian politicians speak of cracking 
down on immigration, 58 they are playing on a link in the popular imagination 
between immigrants and Roma. In the minds of many Italians, Roma are the 
archetype of unwanted “criminal” immigrants. This sentiment reached fever pitch 
when approximately ten thousand Romani refugees arrived in Italy during summer 
1999, after being ethnically cleansed from Kosovo by ethnic Albanians following 
the end of the NATO bombing and the Yugoslav military action in the province. 59 



36 See Liegeois, Jean-Pierre and Nicolae Gheorghe, Roma/ Gypsies: A European Minority, London: 
Minority Rights Group, 1995. 

57 See Ansa Press Agency, quoted in Corriert della Sera, April 4, 2000; Brunello, Piero, Uurbanistica 
del dispre^yo, Rome: Manifestolibri, 1996; Colacicchi, Piero, “Down by Law: Police Abuse of 
Roma in Italy”, Roma Rights , Winter 1998, pp. 25-30 and at http://errc.org/rr_wintl998/ 
notebl.shtral; and Dragutinovic, Op. at., p.12. 

58 Shortly before the April 16, 2000, local elections, media mogul and former Prime Minister Silvio 
Berlusconi of the Forza Italia party proposed a harsh anti-immigration law. The law would 
tighten requirements for acquiring citizenship, stiffen immigration quotas, revoke existing 
immigration-related agreements with other countries and allow the Italian coast guard to fire 
live ammunition at boats “smuggling” foreigners. Mr Berlusconi blamed Italy’s rising crime rate 
on former Prime Minister Massimo D’Alema’s “liberal” immigration laws. After the right swept 
the elections. Prime Minister D’Alema stepped down and was replaced by Guiliano Amato on 
April 18, 2000. 

59 The Kosovo war of 1999 brought large numbers of Roma from Kosovo to Italy. Many arrived 
with little, having braved possible death to make the treacherous crossing from, especially, 
Montenegro. On Roma in the Kosovo crisis, see http://errc.org/publications/indices/ 
kosovo.shtml. During the Kosovo crisis, the Italian media played shamelessly on popular anti- 
llomani xenophobia. For example, a front-page article in the popular Italian weekly Panorama of 
August 22, 1999, was entitled “Mama, the Gypsies are Coming!” The title-page photograph showed 
a rusted boat overloaded with Romani refugees from Kosovo. The primary focus of the article was 
on “difficulties” associated with returning Roma speedily to Montenegro. Another article, which 
ran in the daily II Sole-24 Ore of August 31, 1999, expanded on the difficulties of returning Kosovo 
Romani refugees and emphasised that “the Roma were able to pay the high price of their illegal 
transportation thanks to the dirty money they received by burying both Serbian and Albanian 
victims in mass graves.” The daily Coniere della Sera went so far as to complain in a headline on 
July 22, 1999, that “The United Nations is Against Italy” because it was not assisting with the 
rapid expulsion of Kosovo Romani refugees. 



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Roma in Italy: Racial Segregation 



Most Roma in Italy live in a state of separation from mainstream Italian 
society. For over half of Italy’s Roma, this separation is physical: Roma live 
segregated from non-Romani Italians. In some areas, Roma are excluded and 
ignored, living in filthy and squalid conditions, without basic infrastructure. 
These Roma “squat” abandoned buildings or set up camps along the road or in 
open spaces. They can be evicted at any moment, and frequently are. A racist 
society pushes these Roma to the margins and hinders their integration. Their 
settlements are often called “illegal” or “unauthorised”. Where Italian authorities 
have expended energy and resources on Roma, these efforts have in most cases 
not been aimed at integrating Roma into Italian society. Quite the opposite: as 
the third millennium dawns, Italy is the only country in Europe to boast a 
systematic, publicly organised and sponsored network of ghettos aimed at 
depriving Roma of full participation in, or even contact or interaction with, 
Italian life. These Roma, in Italian parlance, live in “camps” or squalid ghettos 
that are “authorised”. 40 

Camps vary in size from a dozen persons - for example, one of the unauthorised 
camps in Via Castiglia, Milan — to more dian fifteen hundred persons, for example, 
the massive unauthorised Casilino 700 camp in Rome. 41 About 95% of the Roma in 



40 Italy’s housing arrangements for Roma violate international law. Article 11 of the International 
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) states: “The States Parties ... 
recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, 
including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living 
conditions....” Italy ratified the CESCR on September 15, 1978. The International Convention 
on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) at Article 5(e)(iii) prohibits 
racial discrimination in the enjoyment of the right to housing. Italy ratified the CERD on 
January 5, 1976. The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) establishes the positive 
obligation of States parties to provide material assistance, including housing, to children in 
need. Article 27 of the CRC states: “(1) States Parties recognize the right of every child to a 
standard of living adequate for the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social 
development. (2) The parent(s) or others responsible for the child have the primary responsibility 
to secure, within their abilities and financial capacities, the conditions of living necessary for 
the child’s development. (3) States Parties, in accordance with national conditions and within 
their means, shall take appropriate measures to assist parents and others responsible for the 
child to implement this right and shall in case of need provide material assistance and support 
programmes, particularly with regard to nutrition, clothing and housing.” Italy ratified the 
CRC on September 5, 1991. 

41 Camps are most often designated by the name of the street or area on which they are located. 



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camps visited by the ERRC were immigrants or the children of immigrants; the rest 
were itinerant Italian Roma or Sinti. 42 Most of the immigrant Roma (around 70%) 
came from ex-Yugoslavia. Another sizeable group of immigrants came from Romania 
(about 25%), with the remaining 5% composed of small groups and individuals from 
other countries. The smaller camps, home to only fifteen to thirty people, are generally 
unauthorised. Authorised camps tend to comprise at least one hundred persons. 

Camps tend either to comprise Roma of one nationality or, where camps are 
large, to be divided into sections by place of origin with, for example, “Bosnian”, 
“Kosovar”, “Serbian” and “Romanian” sections. In some cases, camps are in close 
proximity to official or unofficial housing arrangements for non-Romani immigrant 
groups. Mr I.B. from the unauthorised camp in the industrial zone of Eboli-Battipaglia 
showed the ERRC a dilapidated mill building about fifty metres from the camp. He 
said that Morrocans were living there. 43 Many Italian Roma also live in camps: at the 
time of the ERRC visit in January 1999, there were between 100 and 150 persons 
living in trailers in the camp at Via Vallenari, Mestre. Another group of about the 
same size lived, also in trailers, at the Bella Sofia unauthorised camp in Palermo. 

Many of the Roma the ERRC met during field research were born in Italy to 
foreign parents. Of the foreign Roma bom outside Italy, most had been in Italy 
continuously for the past thirty years. However, since Italian authorities often 
refuse to issue residence permits to Roma, 44 immigrant Roma often have no official 



42 Recently, Italian government officials have attempted to argue that camps are necessary “to give 
clandestine immigrants an opportunity to establish their identity” (see “Summary Record of the 
6th Meeting: Italy (E/C.12/2000/SR.6), 3 May 2000”). Law 286 of July 25, 1998, the legislation 
presently regulating the status of foreigners in Italy, guarantees foreigners at the border or on the 
territory of Italy all human rights and fundamental freedoms included in domestic legislation, 
international conventions and the generally recognised principles of international law. Article 43 
of the same law bans discrimination against foreigners. 

43 European Roma Rights Center interview with Mr I.B., January 23, 1999, Eboli-Battibaglia. Unless 
otherwise stated, sources are persons who describe themselves as “Roma”. When speaking Italian, 
they occasionally use the word “zingari” to describe themselves; when speaking Serbo-Croatian or 
Macedonian they often use “Roma” or, less frequently, “tsigani”. 

44 Immigration law 416/89 (later the more comprehensive law 39/90, the so-called “Martelli Law”) 
provided a comprehensive legal regime to respond to the occurrence of the first large-scale immigration 
in Italy’s modern history. Under the Martelli Law, in order to acquire legal residence (permesso di 




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Roma in Italy : Racial Segregation 



proof of how long they have been in Italy. Thirty-two-year-old Mr V.M from the 
Secondigliano camp, Naples, said that although his family and he had lived in the 
camp for seven years at the time of the interview, he had no way of proving that 
fact. 43 Forty-five-year-old Mr O.O. similarly told the ERRC that he had been in 
Italy for seven years, yet had not been issued any permanent document. Mr 0.0. 
went to the municipality, and was reportedly told by a counselor responsible for 
immigrants there, “There will never be a place in Milan for you Muslim Roma.” 46 

Some of the Roma with whom the ERRC spoke had managed to secure residence 
permits. This was especially true of Roma who had been in Italy for longer periods of 
time. Individuals who had managed to legalise their status had temporary residence 
permits valid for various — but exclusively short — periods of time. The residence 
permit of longest validity that the ERRC came across belonged to Mr F.S., who had 
arrived in Italy thirty years before and had been there ever since; he had a two-year 
residence permit. The overwhelming majority of residence permits shown to the ERRC 
were valid between one month and six months. Traditional and common law marriages 
are often not recognised by Italian authorities, so many Romani families remain illegal 



soggiomo), persons already residing in Italy were required to prove that they held an official job or 
legally received an income equivalent at least to the minimum social security allowance. When it was 
first enacted, the law allowed foreigners without permits two years to find a job and thus become 
eligible for residence permits. Large numbers of Roma and non-Roma, ignorant of Italian law and 
uninformed by Italians, did not obtain residence permits within the period stipulated. Following 
adoption of the Martclli Law, persons seeking to establish themselves in Italy who did not already 
reside in the country were required to apply at an Italian embassy or consulate abroad for a work- 
related entrance visa (lislo di ingresso), generally only issued upon demonstration that a person already 
had a promise of work in Italy. Upon arrival in Italy, with a work visa, individuals are eligible for 
residence permits; once in possession of a residence permit, a person is eligible for a work permit 
(permesso di lavoro or // libretto di lavoro). Without residence permits, foreigners cannot obtain work 
permits. Additionally, one condition for a residence permit is possession of a valid passport from the 
country of origin. Throughout the 1990s, this condition has placed an increasing burden on, especially, 
Yugoslav men, who have been unable to renew passports without returning to Yugoslavia and serving 
in the military. This has given rise to a large black market in passports and other documents. The 
Martelli Law was replaced in 1998, primarily by the aforementioned Law 286 of July 25, 1998, but 
new regulations only served to render the legal regime governing foreigners more strict by imposing 
a quota system on the number of work-related entrance visas issued. 

43 European Roma Rights Center interview with Mr V.M., January 22, 1999, Naples. 

46 European Roma Rights Center interview with Mr O.O., January 27, 1999, Milan. 



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even if a male head of the family obtains a residence permit. The only Roma bom in 
another country or Roma born in Italy to foreign-bom parents who were in possession 
of Italian citizenship with whom the ERRC met were those lucky enough to live in 
one of the handful of camps with activist and legally competent NGOs. 47 

Most authorised camps are surrounded by a wall or fence. In many instances, 
a regime of gatekeepers render authorised camps into places of restricted access, 
effectively violating the freedom of movement of Roma living there as well as 
that of visitors. 48 Thirty-year-old Mr T.C., a non-Romani gatekeeper at one 
authorised camp told the ERRC that there were many “restricted” persons in 
the camp, meaning that their leaving the camp was forbidden partly or fully. 
People in authorised camps are under permanent control, while people in 
unauthorised camps are subjected to control at intervals. In all but one camp — 
the Zelarino Camp in Mestre — the ERRC witnessed that relations between the 
administration of the camp and the inmates appeared to be founded on mutual 
distrust and fear. 

The ERRC did not see any camps located far from towns or villages. Most 
camps are on the outskirts of towns and cities, while others are in the middle of 
towns. In the centres of towns and cities, one can find both authorised and 
unauthorised camps. For example, the authorised Tor de’ Cenci and Casilino 
900 camps in Rome, and the unauthorised Casilino 700 in Rome and the 
unauthorised camps in Via Castiglia in Milan are all downtown camps. 

There is not always a significant difference between the quality of life in an 
authorised and an unauthorised camp. Roma in camps live in makeshift barracks, 
containers and old trailers. Rarely, in authorised camps, there are some standardised 
barracks (e.g. in the Muratella camp in Rome) or some tents provided by municipal 



47 A child born in Italy to foreign parents can petition the government for Italian citizenship on her 
eighteenth birthday if, under Article 4 of Law 91 of February 5, 1992, she can prove continuous 
residence in Italy for the ten years previous to her eighteenth birthday. This is effectively impossible 
for Roma residing in unauthorised camps. Roma dwelling in authorised camps are entirely dependent 
on the willingness of camp authorities to issue papers certifying their residence in a camp, and are 
therefore often arbitrarily precluded from acquiring Italian citizenship. 

48 Article 13(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to 
freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State.” The Italian Constitution at 
Article 16 guarantees freedom of movement. 





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Roma iti Italy: Racial Segregation 



authorities. Newcomers are often initially sheltered by inhabitants of longer standing 
until they can buy a caravan or build a shack. In about one-third of the camps visited 
by the ERRC, the ground was covered by asphalt - extremely hot in summer 
concrete slabs or small stones. In the remaining camps, the ground was just dirt 
which turned to mud with each rain and produced huge clouds of dust in summer. In 
the Casilino 700 camp in Rome, many shacks had been built on poles to keep the 
floor above the mud. In about half the camps there are a few trees; the rest are devoid 
of anything green. Some of the larger, authorised camps are reportedly rife with 
drugs. For example, the ERRC was told in January 1999 that of around 350 inmates 
of the authorised Olmatello camp in Florence, about fifty persons were currently in 
detention or in prison for drug dealing. 

In about three-quarters of the camps there is running water and electricity. Water 
is either supplied free-of-charge by the municipality in some authorised camps, or at 
a subsidised rate, or at full rate, or stolen by the local Roma. The same applies for 
electricity. Both water and electricity are usually stolen in unauthorised camps, but 
there are exceptions. For example, in an unauthorised camp in Florence, local 
authorities supplied water and even built showers. However, they erected the eight 
cold water showers right in the open, on a concrete platform in the middle of the 
camp. The ERRC team was told with laughter that of course no one would make a 
show of showering with everybody looking. The showers were being used for washing 
clothing at the time of the ERRC visit. 

In the authorised camp of Poderaccio, on the outskirts of Florence, at the time 
of ERRC field research in January 1999, authorities provided electricity. However, 
the municipality did not install electricity metres for each family, but rather 
installed electricity metres for every eight families. Nobody could tell how much 
energy each family consumed, or what portion of the common bill each family 
was supposed to pay. 

The ERRC is not aware of a single camp with an adequate sewage system. Of the 
thirty camps visited by the ERRC, only one — the authorised camp in Via Rismondo, 
Padua — had a sewage system approaching adequacy, with a toilet cabin for every 
two families. Some of die camps had movable chemical toilet cabinets. The chemical 
toilet is a plastic box like a telephone booth, to be used by one person at a time. In 
all camps the ERRC visited there were fewer than needed. Some cases are drastic: in 
Casilino 700, Rome, about a dozen chemical toilets served around 1500 Roma. 
Chemical toilets need close and periodic care by professional personnel. Where 



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this is missing, they become useless and ugly monuments to negligent municipal 
bureaucracy. To passers-by, they confirm the prejudice that Roma smell and are 
dirty. In the authorised Favorita camp in Palermo, no toilet facilities existed at all 
in a camp of about 1000 people at the time of the ERRC visit. 

Authorities effectively block efforts of the Roma themselves to improve their 
housing. Authorities often do not permit Roma in authorised camps to build houses. 
The ERRC was told on several occasions by Roma that they had been trying to 
acquire guarantees from local audiorities that if they did build a house in the camp, 
it would not be demolished by officials. Alternately, some Roma with whom the 
ERRC spoke had requested designation of an appropriate housing site outside the 
camp, so that they could build there. The ERRC is not aware of any cases in which 
such permission was granted. Building without a permit in Italy can have serious 
legal consequences: Article 7 and 20 of the February 28, 1985 law number 47 
elaborating Article 17(b) of the 28 January 1977 law number 10 authorises arrest 
and imprisonment for up to two years and a fine of 10,000,000 to 100,000,000 lira 
(approximately 5000-50,000 euros) for construction without a permit. 

The story of Mr F.S. from the Casilino 900 camp in Rome is particularly 
illustrative. Mr F.S. is a 52-year old Romani man originally from the former 
Yugoslavia. He came to Italy in 1969 and as of January 1999, had been in Italy ever 
since. He and his family built themselves a shack in the Casilino camp in Rome. He 
pointed out to the ERRC team where the shack used to stand; it is a place outside 
of the camp now, at the foot of a hill, about a hundred and fifty meters away from 
the present camp. “My father died here in the camp. We’ve been here for thirty 
years and still not able to get a house. In 1985 the authorities destroyed the old 
camp at the foot of the hill.” Mr F.S. said that at the time there were non-Roma 
from Calabria and Sicily also living there in makeshift houses. “Now they live 
there,” he told the ERRC, pointing to several apartment buildings about half a 
kilometre away: “the state gave them housing, as it is their state. And as we don’t 
have a state, we can’t get a house.” Mr F.S. said that he had time and again approached 
the municipality, requesting permission to build a house, but officials from the 
municipality responded invariably that they would not grant him permission, and 
that if he built one anyway, such a structure would be illegal. They would, they 
said, have to destroy it. 49 



49 European Roma Rights Center interview with Mr F.S., January 21, 1999, Rome. 



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Abuses by Police and Judicial Authorities 



3. ABUSES BY POLICE AND JUDICIAL AUTHORITIES 



Anti- foreigner sentiment and intense hostility towards Roma, accreting to the 
focal points of ghettoised Romani camps throughout Italy, has in recent years 
found visceral expression in abusive raids conducted by police and other authorities. 
Police misconduct in Italy ranges from verbal abuse to serious ill treatment and 
shootings. During field missions in 1997 and 1999, and in the course of regular 
monitoring beginning in 1998 and continuing to the present, the ERRC has 
documented numerous cases of police abuse. It is nearly certain that, between the 
time this report was sent to press and the time that it is published, further abuses of 
the rights of Roma by authorities will have occurred in Italy. 



3.1. Abusive Raids, Evictions and Arbitrary Destruction of Property 

Police and other law enforcement audiorides conduct abusive raids on ghettoised 
Romani settlements in Italy. 30 In most of the thirty Romani camps visited by the 
ERRC throughout Italy, Roma reported police raids. Police raids appear to be a 
regular feature of camp life. Accounts vary, but raids take place in nearly all camps. 
Police typically enter a camp in numbers ranging from four to twenty, with 
exceptional large-scale actions carried out by over one hundred officers. Authorities 
raid most frequently late at night or early in the morning. The inhabitants of the 
camp receive no warning of the raid. Authorities generally proceed from dwelling 
to dwelling. In some instances, officers order all persons temporarily to vacate 
dwellings. Since many of the authorised camps have one group address, police 
empowered to search for one individual may effectively enter any dwelling in a 



30 Abusive raids and the violent disruption of Romani homes is in violation of Articles 3 and 8 of 
the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms 
(ECHR), prohibiting inhuman and/or degrading treatment, and protecting the right to home 
and family life respectively. Italy ratified the ECHR on October 26, 1955. They also violate 
Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which states: 
(1) “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, 
home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation” and (2): 
“Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.” Italy 
ratified the ICCPR on September 15, 1978. 



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Campland: Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 



camp at will. In many instances, authorities have evicted Roma and destroyed their 
property. 31 In raids not aimed at eviction, according to Romani victims, police do 
not inform camp inhabitants of why they have come. Moreover, when Roma request 
to know the purpose or grounds of the raid, officers usually act offended and either 
give no answer at all, or answer by being aggressive or using abusive or racist 
speech towards the individual seeking information. Although the ERRC conducted 
extensive interviews with eyewitnesses of police raids, not a single person recalled 
having been shown written authorisations by police officers. 

Roma residing in the Via Salviati camp on the periphery of Rome provided the 
ERRC with testimony pertaining to raids. Thirty-year-old Mr D.B. told the ERRC: 
“This morning, a little before 6 AM, around thirty police officers arrived in our 
camp, dressed in riot gear, with helmets, masks and truncheons. As always, they 
arrived screaming and shouting. They said that they had to check the documents of 
all heads of families. They forced us out onto the square and then took us to the 
station. They kept us there for twelve hours without explaining anything. They 
gave us nothing to eat.” 32 Describing the same raid, twenty- five-year-old Mr T.K. 
told the ERRC: “The police do cruel things. Today they came at 6 AM. They 
arrested a group of us, but didn’t take us to the police station immediately. First 
they took me with some other people from this camp to the San Basilio 
neighbourhood near here, and they locked us in a garage. They kept us there for 
two hours, in the dark, and they told us that we had to lie face down and not move. 
They called us one at a time to ask for documents. After two hours they had 
checked everyone, but they still took us to the police station.” 33 Mr T.K. told the 
ERRC that he believes that the Italian police are racist. 



31 The United Nations Commission on Human Rights resolution 1993/77, entitled “Forced evictions” 
adopted on March 10, 1993, states: “The Commission on Human Rights [...] affirms that the 
practice of forced evictions constitutes a gross violation of human rights, in particular the right to 
adequate housing; [...] urged governments to take immediate measures, at all levels, aimed at 
eliminating the practice of forced evictions [...] to confer legal security of tenure on all persons 
currently threatened with forced evictions.” 

52 European Roma Rights Center interview with Mr D.B., April 1, 2000, Rome. 

33 European Roma Rights Center interview with Mr T.K., April 1, 2000, Rome. Arbitrary arrest and 
detention violates Article 5 of the European Convention of Human Rights which guarantees the 
right to liberty and security of person. 




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Abuses by Police and Judicial Authorities 



In the San Donnino camp in Florence, 60-year-old Mrs. K.K. and 39-year-old 
Mrs. S.K. provided the ERRC with the following account of a raid on their camp: 
around twenty uniformed policemen came, carrying submachine guns. They made 
everyone leave their caravans and makeshift shelters, conducted a search and then 
sprayed everything inside the dwellings with some chemicals they had brought 
with them; they said this was “for disinfecting”. Officials reportedly sprayed 
bread, water and baby-food formula left in the open. They also reportedly kicked 
a child named A.B. 54 

Fifty-three-year-old Mr S.F. told the ERRC that on January 10, 1999, he was an 
eyewitness as eight carabinieri 5 arrived in two cars in die Favorita camp in Palermo 
and started to search the caravans and makeshift shelters, without producing any 
document or explaining anydiing. Mr L.D., an informal leader of the Roma in die 
camp, asked the police officers what they were doing. In response, police officers 
pushed him several times and then one of them reportedly put a handgun to his 
head. By that time, a crowd from the camp had gathered around; they reportedly 
pushed the carabinieri back and broke the windows of their cars, after which the 
carabinieri left. One of the carabinieri reportedly fired two shots in the air as they 
were leaving. Minutes later, the entrance of die camp was blocked by two carabinieri 
cars. Approximately one hour later, four carabinieri stopped 16-year-old S.E., 
nephew of L.D., as he was returning from a football game, and beat him in public 
with truncheons. They then transported S.E. to the station of the carabinieri. An 
Italian friend of L.D. reportedly witnessed the beating and informed L.D. L.D. 
then called the commanding officer of the local carabinieri, and the latter brought 
the boy back, escorted by carabinieri officers. The ranking officer then reportedly 



34 Case summary based on European Roma Rights Center interview with Mrs. K.K. and European 
Roma Rights Center interview with Mrs S.K., January 18, 1999, Florence. 

33 Carabinieri are police officials under the competence of the Ministry of Defence. The following 
categories of police exist in Italy: Carabinieri - Military police who answer to the Ministry of 
Defense, responsible especially for criminal offences; Guardia di Finan^a (Finance Police) - 
Military police who answer to the Ministry of Finance responsible for criminal financial activities, 
such as drug running or tax evasion; Polina di Stato (State Police) - a civil force which answers 
to the Ministry of the Interior, responsible for criminal activity and anti-state crimes; Polina 
Municipals (Municipal Police) - Each city has its own force, mostly responsible for traffic offenses, 
however, active in document checks. 



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Camptand : Racial Segregation of Roftia in Italy 



requested that Mr L.D. not “make a fuss” by bringing the matter to court. Mr L.D. 
told the ERRC that he had agreed, in exchange for a verbal agreement to recognise 
his local authority. 36 

In the unauthorised Masini camp on the outskirts of Florence, a 31 -year-old 
Romani man named Mr N.S. told the ERRC that in 1998 the camp had been raided 
approximately five or six times by the police. At the time of the BRRC visit on 
January 17, 1999, the most recent raid had taken place in September or October 
1998. On that occasion, at about 4:30 AM, police entered the camp with dogs, 
ordered everybocty out of the caravans and makeshift sheds in which they were 
sleeping, and then started a search. It was raining. Police did not allow anyone to 
go inside to shelter from the rain or to put on clothes appropriate for the weather. 
They called the Roma “Gypsy bastards” and “dirty Gypsies”. 37 Verbal abuse was 
also reported by 47-year-old Ms T.B., from the Muratella camp in Rome: “During 
raids, police call us women ‘G)'psy whores’.” 38 



36 European Roma Rights Center interview with Mr L.D., January 24, 1999, Palermo. 

37 European Roma Rights Center interview with Mr N.S., January 17, 1999, Florence. Abusive 
treatment of Roma is seriously aggravated by explicitly racist motives. The European Court of 
Human Rights has made clear that, in evaluating claims of torture and/or of inhuman or degrading 
treatment or punishment, it will take into account a range of factors which bear on the vulnerability 
of the victim. Thus, in its judgement in Ireland r. United Kingdom , the Court held: “...ill-treatment 
must attain a minimum level of severity if it is to fall within the scope of Article 3. The assessment 
of this minimum is in the nature of things, relative; it depends on all the circumstances of the case, 
such as the duration of the treatment, its physical or mental effects and in some cases, the sex, age, 
and state of health of the victim, etc.” (judgment of 18 January 1978, 2 EHRR 25, para. 162). The 
rationale for this is that the level of ill-treatment required to be “degrading” depends, in part, on 
the vulnerability of the victim to physical or emotional suffering. The same reasoning supports 
the conclusion that association with a minority group historically subjected to discrimination and 
prejudice, such as the Roma, may render a victim more vulnerable to ill-treatment for the purposes 
of Article 3. Along those lines, in its admissibility decision in the case of Arthur Hilton v. United 
Kingdom — where the author, a black inmate, complained of various forms of ill-treatment — the 
European Commission of Human Rights found that “the author’s allegations of assault, abuse, 
harassment, victimization, racial discrimination and the like raise an issue under Article 3 of the 
Convention....” (Arthur Hilton v. United Kingdom , Application No. 5613/72, Decision of 5 March 
1976, p. 187). 

38 European Roma Rights Center interview with Ms T.B., January 20, 1999, Rome. 







26 



Abuses by Police and Judicial Authorities 



In the authorised Borgosattolo camp in Brescia, 58-year-old Mr B.L. told the 
ERRC that police came to the camp at least twice a week, with no clear aim. Usually, 
according to Mr B.L., two or three uniformed officers arrive in one car. Mr B.L. 
called this practice of the police “molestation”. On January 18, 1999, approximately 
fifty police officers reportedly raided the settlement. Witnesses stated that they did 
not provide any reason for the operation. Officers checked the inhabitants of the 
makeshift huts and the caravans, and departed without arresting anyone. 39 

A common feature of raids on Romani ghettos by police and municipal authorities 
is the abusive destruction of property and makeshift dwellings belonging to Roma. 60 



39 European Roma Rights Center interview with Mr B.L., January 28, 1999, Brescia. 

60 Destruction of camp dwellings and property by the police during raids amounts to a violation of 
the right to freedom from torture/ inhuman or degrading treatment, as well as of the right to 
respect for home, private and family life - i.e. of Articles 3 and 8 of the European Convention on 
Human Rights (ECHR) respectively. In addition, it is an unequivocal breach of the right to the 
peaceful enjoyment of possessions as provided for in Article 1 of Protocol I to the European 
Convention on Human Rights. The Strasbourg organs have made clear that “home” is where one 
lives on a permanent and settled basis. In Gillow v. United Kingdom (A-119 (1986) Comm. Rep., 
paras. 109-1 19), the Commission decided that “home” could even include a place where one intended 
to live. Once it is established that certain premises are “home”, Article 8 protection encompasses 
each of the following rights: the right of access ( Wiggins v. United Kingdom , No. 7456/76, 13 D & 
R 40 (1978)), the right of occupation (Ibid.), and the right not to be expelled or evicted ( Cyprus i: 
Turkey, 4 EHRR 482 (1976)). 

Regarding the concept of “private life”, the European Commission on Human Rights and the 
European Court of Human Rights have in a number of cases held that for the purposes of Article 
8(1) this includes the physical and moral integrity of a person (See, e.g., X and Y v. Netherlands , A- 
91 (1985), para. 22). In general, compulsory physical treatment of an individual falls within the 
sphere of private life, however slight the intervention (see for example, X i: Austria , No. 8278/78, 
18 D & R 154, 156 (1979), in which a blood test was at issue). In one case concerning the intensity 
and persistence of aircraft noise, the Commission found that “considerable noise nuisance can 
undoubtedly affect the physical well-being of a person and thus interfere with his private life.” 
(Rayner v. United Kingdom, No. 9310/81, 47 D& R 5 (1986)). 

Concerning Article 1 of Protocol 1 to the ECHR, the Strasbourg authorities have in a number 
of cases delineated the nature of “possessions”. Thus, the Court and the Commission have held 
that a wide variety of interests other than ownership implicate Article 1 or Protocol 1 (See, e.g., 
Van Marie, Judgment of 26 June 1986, A.101). Moreover, it is similarly settled that even measures 
short of the outright taking of property may affect the right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions 
(See, e.g., Papamichalopoulos v. Greece, Judgment of 24 June 1993, A.260-B, p. 20). 

Some Italian courts have ruled against the abusive destruction of property of Roma by 
authorities, but decisions have later been overturned by appeals courts. On April 23, 1995, for 



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Campland: Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 



In camps, neither caravans nor their barracks are evidently considered by Italian 
authorities to be legal dwellings, no matter whether the camp itself is authorised or 
not. If the authorities want to threaten or punish somebody from an authorised 
camp, they often threaten to demolish their dwelling. Such threats are frequently 
executed. Italian authorities have also destroyed the dwellings of Roma without 
pretext. On such occasions they do not, however, offer alternate adequate housing. 

In Milan, the ERRC was briefed on January 27, 1999, by 29-year-old Mr R.P., 
one of the informal Roma organisers in the Via Castiglia neighbourhood. He and 
his extended family, relatives and friends, were illegally occupying an old brick 
five-floor house. The house had running water but no electricity. The Roma had 
moved in two weeks before the ERRC visit after a series of forced displacements. 
On January 12, 1999, the police had destroyed their caravans (about thirty in 
number) in the Via Novara camp in Milan. They had been in that camp for about 
four months, having arrived in August 1998. Before that, they had been in yet 
another camp in Milan, in Via Gioia, where their shelters had also been destroyed 
by authorities. Mr R.P. told the ERRC that his group had been pushed from one 
unauthorised camp to another, forced evictions occurring on average once every 
four or five months. Police had also recently threatened him to “move, or we’ll 
take your trailers and cars.” 61 



example, the Mayor of Florence, Mr Giorgio Morales, was indicted for ordering the destruction 
of Roma huts, caravans and personal belongings in the Roma camp of Olmatello in January 
1992. Indictments for destruction of property were also brought against the mayor’s chief clerk, 
Mr Enio Tonveronachi and the chief of police, Mr Sauro Pieraccioni, who was allegedly 
responsible for carrying out the operations. In the indictment, Florence assistant public prosecutor 
Emma Cosentino stated, “The existing prejudices about [...] thieving, dirty, lying Roma who 
don’t want to work are alibis and excuses for many people: for the administrators who think it 
their right not to do anything to solve the problems of Roma and [in fact] do much to their 
detriment [...]. In Florence, the Roma live in conditions of complete indigence, in a state of 
degradation seen nowhere else, with the complete indifference [...] and neglect of the public 
administration. They come face to face with incredible, unjust and unjustifiable difficulties in all 
aspects of their daily lives [...]” On July 7, 1995, Mr Tonveronachi and Mr Pieraccioni, were 
ordered by the court to pay one million lira (approximately 500 euros) in fines, plus damages to 
the Roma. The mayor was found not guilty, since it had been impossible to establish that he had 
ordered the operation be carried out with destruction of property. Approximately one year 
later, however, all parties were acquitted on appeal. 

61 European Roma Rights Center interview with Mr R.P., January 27, 1999, Milan. 



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Abuses by Police and Judicial Authorities 



The ERRC was subsequently taken to the site of an unauthorised camp in an 
empty space between two buildings, next to the house occupied by the Roma; the 
ERRC team was told that the six caravans in that camp had been bulldozed on 
January 26, 1999, the previous morning. The jERRC saw and documented the two- 
metre-high pile of debris to which authorities had reduced the caravans by knocking 
them over with bulldozers. Then the team was taken to an empty lot across the 
street. There was a similar pile of debris, only somewhat smaller, and two women 
and one small child, sitting on some bags on the ground. One of the women was 
crying silently. Authorities had finished their work less than one hour previously, 
destroying their three caravans. The women, Mrs M.I. and Mrs D.C., told the 
jERRC that there had been twelve people living there, nine men and three women, 
all of them Romanian Roma. Their husbands, they said, had gone to work early in 
the morning, around six o’clock, and didn’t know what had happened meanwhile 
to their caravans. Mrs M.I. said that about fifteen police officers had arrived that 
morning. They told the women that they should leave the caravans and gave them 
about twenty minutes to get their belongings out. The little girl, they said, was 
eighteen months old. The Roma made homeless by the destruction of their caravans 
then occupied another empty house nearby. The ERRC continued to monitor the 
situation and for about three months the Romani families stayed there. Then, on 
April 14, 1999, at about 8:30 AM, the police came and evicted about a hundred 
Roma from the two slum houses in Via Castiglia. 62 The eviction was executed by 
about thirty police officers. They gave the Roma two hours to clear out. Because 
many of the men were at work and their wives had to go and find them, the time 
provided by the police was insufficient. When all Roma had left the houses, the 
doors were sealed with masonry. The belongings and documents of those Roma 
who had not been found in time were sealed inside. 

The operation in Via Castiglia had been initiated by the municipality, the owner 
of the houses. Municipal officials gave the squatters two options. The first option 
was that women and children only could be sheltered under a civil protection 
program, effectively breaking up the families. The other option was for all of them 
to move to the Via Barzaghi camp on the outskirts of the city. Via Barzaghi had no 
infrastructure at all: no toilets, water, electricity, and no barracks or any other 
shelter. On April 19, 1999, a delegation consisting of representatives of the evicted 



62 See “Snapshots from around Europe”, Roma Rights 2/1999 at: http://errc.org/rr_nr2_1999/ 
snapl8.shtml. 



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Roma and supportive local NGOs met with members of the local council; the 
monitor of the ERRC for Northern Italy also participated. The delegation tried to 
make it clear to the councillors that the Roma wanted adequate housing. Councillor 
Fumagalli either sincerely or disingenuously stated that he did not believe them. 
Councillor Fumagalli told them that normally what all Roma want is a camp and 
not a house. 

On January 23, 1999, thirty- four-year-old Mr I.B. and his wife, who was nursing 
an approximately one-year-old baby, took the ERRC to the unauthorised camp in 
the Eboli-Battipaglia industrial zone from which they, together with other Roma, 
had been evicted the previous day between 3 and 4 PM. 63 Mr I.B. told the ERRC 
that first two cars arrived, carrying eight uniformed police officers; then another 
four cars with sixteen men in street clothes, bringing the total to twenty-four persons. 
They told residents of the camp that they should leave the site “right away”, 
otherwise authorities would seize the eight cars and destroy the four trailers at the 
site. Mr. I.B. told the ERRC that he had asked the policemen why they were evicting 
them; he also asked for the papers authorising the eviction. He received no answer 
and was shown no papers. 

So the Roma packed and left hurriedly, under the stare of the authorities’ 
representatives. The ERRC saw pieces of clothing and broken furniture, also a 
broken metal stove, scattered around the camp; there were also some children’s 
toys and Italian school readers and textbooks lying on the ground. Of the dozen 
or so makeshift barracks, several had been destroyed. Inside one of the shacks 
that remained standing, the ERRC team saw some heaps of clothing and some 
open packets of rice and sugar. ic We had to hurry so much we didn’t even take all 
the food,” Mrs B. explained to the ERRC The group then split up, looking for 
places to spend the night. The B. couple took the ERRC to the new impromptu 
camp where they and their relatives, around thirty in all, had spent the previous 
night. It was a place in the same industrial area, about ten kilometres away. It 
looked like an old dump, now overgrown with grass, in front of a dilapidated 
factory building. There they had spent the night in their cars and a couple of 
tents. The factory was full of dirt and unusable as a shelter; there was no water or 
electricity in the vicinity. 



63 European Roma Rights Center interview with Mr I.B., January 23, 1999, Eboli-Battipaglia 
industrial zone. 





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Abuses by Police and Judicial Authorities 



There had been ten families — around one hundred persons — in the raided and 
now vacated camp; they were all Roma from Mostar, Bosnia. Mr I.B. and his wife 
have nine children, aged from eleven months to fourteen years. They arrived in 
Italy in 1990. At the time of the ERRC visit, they had never received residence 
permits; the last time diey applied had been a month and a half prior to the ERRC 
interview. Since arriving in Italy, they had never had a legal fixed address. Authorities 
had repeatedly evicted them from sites and forced them to move on. They had 
come to this camp in September 1998, and stayed until evicted on January 22, 
1999. Mr I.B. informed the ERRC that he had been living with his relatives for 
about three years in this industrial zone. During that time, they had been chased 
from one site in the zone to another, on average once every four or five months. In 
a subsequent interview with the ERRC on April 1, 2000, Mr I.B. stated that police 
had raided the site another seven times in the fourteen months since the ERRC had 
first interviewed him. 64 

Mr B.O. from the Viale Eritrea unauthorised camp in Milan also told the 
ERRC of evictions; these occurred around once every two months. The previous 
camp this group inhabited had been in Via Castellamare, Milan; the authorities 
would give them “five minutes to clear away,” 63 he said. He also told the ERRC 
that police came at irregular intervals, but roughly once every six weeks, and 
they imposed a fine on one of the trailers on the grounds that it was standing in 
an unauthorised site. The fine demanded would be relatively large. For example 
the last time, one month previously, it had been 800,000 lira (approximately 400 
euros). If the fine was not paid, the police would come with a bulldozer and 
crush the trailer. 

Another series of raids took place on May 28, 2000, in Rome. According to on- 
site monitoring by the ERRC, eyewitness testimony provided to the ERRC and to 
the Italian non-governmental organisation ARCI, as well as media reports, in the 
early morning hours of May 28, 2000, more than 1000 municipal police officers, 
carabinieri and members of the military conducted raids on the Arco di Travertino, 
Muratella, via Candoni-ATAC, la Rustica and Vasca Navale camps in Rome. 



64 European Roma Rights Center interview with Mr I.B., April 1, 2000, Eboli-Battipaglia industrial 
zone, southern Italy. 

65 European Roma Rights Center interview with Mr B.O., January 27, 1999, Milan. 



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Campland: Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 



At the Via Candoni-ATAC camp, more than 200 municipal police officers and 
carabinieri arrived in riot gear, carrying rifles and truncheons, with military buses, 
two ambulances, four tow trucks and bulldozers. They entered the camp at 
approximately 2:15 AM and began ordering individuals out of their places of 
residence — camper vans and shacks. The 200 inhabitants were told by authorities 
to pack their belongings and that they would be transferred to another camp. Some 
camper vans were towed away widi belongings inside, however. Romani inhabitants 
of the Via Candoni-ATAC camp were taken to the Muratella camp. One family, 
the T. family from Bosnia, was reportedly expelled from Italy with four children 
and sent to Bosnia, though no official had confirmed the expulsion as of July 16, 
2000. Advisor for Nomad Affairs for the City of Rome Dr Luigi Lusi was present 
at the raid on the Via Candoni-ATAC camp and told the ERRC that “this is a 
simple and legal operation to give these people a better living space.” When queried 
as to why the operation took place in the dead of night and without being announced, 
Dr Lusi told the ERRC, “when working with criminals, one has to move in secrecy, 
or else they will all escape.” 66 

Members of ARCI and other observers arrived shortly after the raid began. 
According to their testimony, police used excessive force. During the raid, officers 
pushed one ERRC representative and used discriminatory and abusive language 
against Roma present. Officers refused to provide identification or to provide names 
and tides to the ERRC or to journalists present at the raid. 

At the Vasca Navale camp, in response to a prior tip that the camp would be 
raided, all but three of the ninety inhabitants fled the scene before police arrival. 
The three inhabitants remaining were taken by police to the Muratella camp. Officers 
told them that camper vans in Vasca Navale would be impounded, but that 
inhabitants of the camp would be allowed to recover their belongings later. Instead, 
twenty vehicles were destroyed, four or five were impounded, all shacks were torn 
down and the camp was closed. City council member Mr Amedeo Piva later told 
members of ARC1 diat the destruction of the camper vans had been a “mistake” 
and that they would be replaced. 

At the Arco di Travertino camp, more that 100 municipal police officers and 
carabinieri arrived in riot gear and carrying rifles and truncheons at approximately 



66 European Roma Rights Center interview with Dr Luigi Lusi, May 28, 2000, Rome. 



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1:30 AM. Officers arrived with a police bus, ambulance and two tow trucks. The 
Arco di Travertino camp is authorised by the city of Rome and is equipped with 
utilities and sanitary services. There were, at the time of the raid, forty inhabitants 
living in the camp. With the exception of one individual, all are either Italian citizens 
or have valid residence permits. Authorities announced that Romani inhabitants 
of the camp at Vasca Navale would be transferred to the Arco di Travertino camp 
and that the present inhabitants would be expelled from the camp. At approximately 
10:30 AM Sunday, after a nine hour siege, the police evidently abandoned plans 
and left the premises. 

During all of the raids, police closed roads in a one-kilometre radius around 
the camp areas. The operations took place during a strike by Italian journalists, 
precluding effective public scrutiny. In a press release of Sunday May 28, 2000, 
the City of Rome’s Advisor for Nomad Affairs Dr Luigi Lusi stated: “This 
initiative [was] co-ordinated by the City of Rome, all police forces and 
immigration services. Apart from dismantling illegal camps, [we] managed to 
evict dangerous criminals. We found objects in their possession worth more 
than one billion lira (approximately five million euros) and large and expensive 
cars.” Dr Lusi did not elaborate further on the nature of the objects “found” or 
whether they had been impounded by authorities. He also did not elaborate as 
to the nature of charges brought against the “dangerous criminals”. Referring to 
unspecified individuals — and by inference all of the Roma concerned - Dr Lusi 
stated: “The City of Rome confirms its battle against criminality and delinquency. 
We have sent away the delinquents.” 67 

On May 30, 2000, the ERRC sent a letter to Italian Prime Minister Giuliano 
Amato to express concern about the abusive raids in Rome on May 28. In the 
letter, the ERRC urged Prime Minister Amato to take a clear stand in condemning 
abusive police behavior and racist acts against Roma. The ERRC additionally urged 
thorough investigation into allegations that officers exceeded their legally sanctioned 
powers during the May 28 raids, and punishment of officers guilty of abuse. The 
HRRC called on Prime Minister Amato to ensure that possessions impounded be 
restored to Roma forthwith, and destroyed property be compensated. As of July 12, 
2000, the ERRC had received no response to the letter. 



67 Press statement by the City of Rome Office of Nomad Affairs, May 28, 2000, Rome. 



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Catnplcmd: Racial Segregation of Roma i in Italy 



Police raids on Romani ghettos are an institution in Italy. Some police raids 
apparently stem from the notion that a “camp”, especially a Romani camp, is a 
breeding place for thieves. Other raids are simply violent storms by gangs of police 
officers intent on disrupting life in Romani ghettos. Some raids seem intended to 
intimidate. Others are to evict. All of the raids documented by the ERRC had 
proceeded without officers producing valid warrants indicating the grounds for the 
raid. Even a legally conducted raid may be abusive. 68 The Italian raids for the most 
part violate, often seriously, international rules and norms on proper police conduct. 



3.2. Abusive Use of Firearms 

ERRC research indicates that police in Italy open fire on persons they believe 
to be Roma in circumstances in which they would be unlikely to shoot at non- 
Roma. A double standard seems to be applied in enforcing the law, based on 
racist prejudices on the part of the police. Police in Italy also use firearms abusively 
to intimidate Roma. 

On May 22, 1998, at around 4:00 PM, Mr P.N., a police officer from the 
carabinieri , shot and permanently mutilated Natali Marolli, an 8-year-old Romani 
girl, in Montaione, approximately forty kilometres south-west of Florence. The 
bullet entered the car in which Natali was sitting along with three adults through 
the back-window, went through Natali's left eye, exited through the back of her 
head, and then hit and lightly wounded the front passenger, a Romani male, in 
the head. Another bullet lightly wounded Natali's mother, Biserka Nikolic, and 
then struck Natali in the cheek. The girl has been in a state of so-called “waking 
coma” since then. Natali's mother is a Romani woman from Serbia; her father, 
Halil Marolli, is a Kosovar Albanian. The police, who claim to have fired four 
shots in all, had apparently been waiting in ambush after having received a report 
that a “suspicious-looking car with Gypsies was in the neighbourhood.'' 69 



68 Raids per se, and particularly those involving Romani communities, often give rise to issues under 
Articles 3, 8, and 14 respectively of the European Convention on Human Rights — i.c. the freedom 
from inhuman or degrading treatment, the right to respect for private and family life, and the 
right to non-discrimination. 

69 Communication issued by the Montaione Police following the incident. 



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According to the police, when the car with the Roma didn’t stop when ordered, 
they opened fire. 70 

As of May 30, 2000, no disciplinary measures had been taken against either 
officer. An initial investigation into the shooting acquitted Officer P.N. of 
attempted murder of the child. Thereafter, the three adults involved filed a 
complaint, requesting prosecution of the police for attempted murder. The case 
was dropped as the magistrate judged that the police had acted within the law. 
Natali was still in a coma as of July 20, 2000. As of May 30, 2000, on the basis of 
new evidence filed by the attorney for the parents of the victim, the case had 
been reopened by a Florentine prosecutor, and he had ordered new ballistics 
testing. No date had been set for the tests. 71 Civil suit for damages was filed on 
behalf of Natali but no hearings had taken place as of May 30, 2000. 

The Italian criminal justice system has failed to provide proper remedy in 
cases of excessive use of force by police. In September 1993, Officer Valentino 
Zantoni of the carabinieri shot and killed an 11-year-old Yugoslav Romani boy 
named Tarzan Sulic and seriously wounded his 13-year-old cousin Mira Djuric 
in police custody in Padua. After lengthy legal proceedings, the officer of the 
carabinieri was given only a suspended sentence, despite protests and a petition 
signed by over 1000 people, including the mayor of Padua. He was reportedly 
removed from the carabinieri. J5RRC investigation in 1998 revealed that a civil 
suit for damages had been dropped. 



70 The United Nations Basic Principles for the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement 
Officials stipulates at point 9 that, "Law enforcement officials shall not use firearms against persons 
except in self-defence or in defence of others against the imminent threat of death or serious injury, 
to prevent the perpetration of a particularly serious crime involving grave threat to life, to arrest 
a person presenting such a danger and resisting their authority, or to prevent his or her escape, and 
only when less extreme means are insufficient to achieve these objectives. In any event, intentional 
lethal use of firearms may only be made when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life.” 

71 Case summary based on European Roma Rights Center interview with Ms Biserka Nikolic, Florence, 
January 17, 1999; European Roma Rights Center interviews with Mr Piero Colacicchi of Associatjone 
per la difesa dei diritti delle minoran^e (. Association for the Defense of the Rights of Minorities - ADM), 
January 15 and 16, 1999, Florence; and interview with attorney Antonino Filasto, January 18, 
1999, Florence and May 30, 2000, Florence. 

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Shooting by police officers during raids in Romani camps is also reported 
with disturbing frequency. Inhabitants of the Muratella camp on the outskirts of 
Rome told the ERRC that sometime during the first half of January 1999, 
inhabitants of the camp were awoken during the night by gun shots. They saw 
several policemen, who explained to them that they had been shooting at a man 
they had been following, who ran into the camp and “disappeared”. They shot 
into the darkness after the suspect. A Romani woman living in the Muratella 
camp, Ms R.H., told the ERRC that in the same camp in 1996, I.S., a boy of 
fifteen, was wounded in the leg when police shot him during a raid. She told the 
ERRC: “The police threaten us. They say things like Tf you don't tell me 
everything right now, I will shoot', and then they really shoot in the air.” 72 

Forty- two -year- old Mr F.S. told the ERRC that he has witnessed police arbitrarily 
using firearms in Romani settlements on numerous occasions. He stated: “When 
they raid, the police enter with their guns out. They threaten you, they say they 
will shoot if we don't answer all of their questions. And then they really fire into 
the air.” 73 In such cases the police reportedly use such threats to extort information 
from presumed witnesses or suspects. 

Police are quick to draw weapons as a form of intimidation in camps. In the 
unauthorised Masini camp near Florence, the ERRC was told that during a raid 
there in the autumn of 1998, a police officer pointed a pistol at the head of a small 
girl. He reportedly threatened her and accused her family of hiding the father of 
the girl, for whom they were evidendy searching. The father, 31 -year-old Mr N.S., 
told the ERRC that at the time he had been at work; upon returning to the camp, 
he learned that officers had been looking for him and went to the police station 
voluntarily. There, officers informed him that it had been “a mistake”, and that 
they did not want him after all. Officers reportedly did not apologise for having 



72 European Roma Rights Center interview with Ms R.H., January 20, 1999, Rome. The Unites Nations 
Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials states, under 
“General Provisions” at point 4: “Law enforcement officials, in carrying out their duty, shall, as 
far as possible, apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force and firearms. They 
may use force and firearms only if other means remain ineffective or without any promise of 
achieving the intended result.” 

73 European Roma Rights Center interview with Mr F.S., January 20, 1999, Rome. 



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Abuses by Police and Judicial Authorities 



pointed a firearm at the head of Mr N.S.’s daughter. 74 In the unauthorised Etrea 
camp in Milan, the ERRC was told by 37-year-old Mr B.O. that he had witnessed 
police officers beating a fourteen-year- old boy named R.O. in the camp; then one 
of them pointed his gun at the boy's head, threatening him. 75 



3.3. Torture and Physical Abuse 

Physical abuse of Roma by police officers and other security officials in Italy is 
widespread. The ERRC has documented numerous instances of beatings and other 
instances of physical abuse of Roma by officers. Physical abuse takes place in custody 
and in public. Often police use violence on Romani detainees in order to force 
them to confess to crimes. 

In the Borgosattolo camp at Brescia, the ERRC documented an extreme 
instance of police abuse in detention. On November 7, 1998, three Romani 
youths from the camp, all from Kosovo, Mr H.M. (22), Mr N.F. (20) and Mr 
F.S. (17), were detained in connection with an attempted theft, searched, put 
into a police car together with three policemen and driven to the local municipal 
police station at around 12:15 PM. They were taken into a room inside the 
station. Soon thereafter, a police officer came, carrying a knife with a blade 
longer than that permitted by law. He reportedly stated that the knife had been 
found in the car that had just brought the Romani youths to the police station 
and that it must be theirs. All three denied having ever seen the knife. The three 
were then separated by officers into three corners of one room. There were, 
according to victim testimony, six police officers in the room; two were left to 
guard the door from the outside. One officer, whom the victims described as 
“middle aged”, approached Mr N.F. in his corner and asked him to tell him to 
whom the knife belonged, or he would beat him. Mr N.F. denied that the knife 
belonged to any of them. The officer then started beating him, with slaps, punches 
and kicks. The same policeman then went to Mr F.S., and after Mr F.S. denied 
that the knife was theirs, beat him in the same manner; he also took him by the 



74 European Roma Rights Center interview with Mr N.S., January 17 1999, Florence. 
7;> European Roma Rights Center interview with Mr B.O., January 27, 1999, Milan. 



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hair and hit his head against the wall. Another policeman then approached, one 
who was known to the victims as an officer who often acts abusively in the 
Borgosattolo camp, and said that they would get some oil and set Mr F.S.’s hair 
on fire. By that time Mr F.S. had fallen to the floor. Fie told them that he had a 
heart condition and the officer beating him stopped. 

The same officer then reportedly went to the third detainee, Mr H.M., and 
demanded to know who owned the knife. H.M. stated that he did not know, so 
the officer started beating Mr H.M. using punches and kicks. Mr H.M. had had 
his pancreas operated on three months previously; he tried to protect his stomach, 
and told the policeman about the operation. The policeman reportedly answered, 
“I don’t care,” and continued beating him, the stomach area included. During the 
beating, the abusive officer reportedly insulted the ethnic origins of the three 
men, calling them “Gypsy bastards” and “cretins ”. 76 Only after the beating did 
officers offer to provide the men with access to an attorney . 77 

In detention following the beating, all three men were examined by doctors; 
one of the victims told the doctor that he had been beaten. The three men also 
reported the beatings to their legal representatives. All of the lawyers counselled 
them not to complain of the beating. Four months after the incident, the ERRC 
and a local human rights group asked a lawyer to try and find a record of the 
beating in the medical files of the detention centre. The lawyer did not succeed in 
procuring any official documentation of the abuse. 



76 Case summary based on European Roma Rights Center interview with Mr H.M., January 28, 1999, 

Brescia; European Roma Rights Center interview with Mr N.F., January 28, 1999, Brescia; European 
Roma Rights Center interview with Mr F.S., January 28, 1999, Brescia. 

77 United Nations Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention 

or Imprisonment, principle 17 (1) states: “A detained person shall be entitled to have the assistance 
of a legal counsel. He shall be informed of his right by the competent authority promptly after 
arrest and shall be provided with reasonable facilities for exercising it.” In John Murray v . the 
United Kingdom (February 8, 1996, R.J.D., 1996-1, No. 1.), the applicant was refused access to a 
solicitor for 48 hours. The European Court of Human Rights found that the applicant’s rights 
under Article 6(3)(c) of the European Convention on Human Rights — i.e. to defend himself through 
legal assistance of his own choosing - had been violated. The Court based its decision on the 
finding that due to the fact that inferences could be drawn from his silence or indeed responses to 
police questions, the applicant was in a position whereby the restriction on access to legal advice 
had irretrievably prejudiced his defence. 




38 



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Abuses by Police and Judicial Authorities 



Instances of extreme abuse by authorities of detained Roma in Italy are not isolated. 
On die night of December 31, 1997, according to the victims, 18-year-old Ms L.J., 22- 
year-old Mrs E.N. and the 22-year-old Romani husband of the latter, Mr R.N., were 
detained in the street in Palermo, Sicily, by police for allegedly attempting to burgle 
a flat. The police made them stand with their legs wide apart, leaning against a wall, 
and searched them. While they were standing like this, die police hit Mr R.N. on the 
head widi a handgun. Then the police tried to look under the skirt of Mrs E.N. She 
started to scream. Mrs E.N. had given birth to a child three days before diis arrest. 
While searching Ms L.J., a police officer reportedly pulled her hair. 

Police subsequently transported the three Romani suspects to a nearby police 
station. Once inside, the women were told to sit on benches in a corridor and were 
handcuffed. Mr R.N. was locked in a room off of the same corridor. The women 
watched as officers periodically entered the cell one by one. Then diey would hear 
Mr R.N. scream in pain. The women assumed he was being beaten. They cried and 
implored the policemen to stop the beating. In response, officers several times 
pulled their hair, and they could hear the beating of Mr R.N. continuing. 

The women were kept in the corridor handcuffed for a period of several hours. 
Finally female officers came and searched them. After they had put their clothes 
back on, a male police officer entered the room. He kicked Mrs E.N. in the lower 
back. She then fell on the floor and started to scream. Officers then beat her for 
screaming. Officers then continued to beat both women. At one point, Mrs E.N. 
threatened to report the abuse and officers beat her in retaliation. In response to 
the fact that Mrs E.N. was continuously screaming, officers took a skirt which Mrs 
E.N. was carrying in a bag, tore it into pieces, and gagged her with it. The women 
were then taken to the room where Mr R.N. was detained. They saw that his body 
was swollen and bore evidence of having been beaten. Ms L.J. was told by officers 
to remain in this room, and the wife of Mr R.N., Mrs E.N., was put in a room next 
to theirs. The man and woman could hear Mrs E.N. screaming despite the gag and 
assumed that she was being beaten. 

Then police officers entered the room where Ms L.J. and Mr R.N. were. One of 
them told Mr R.N. his address and asked if Mr R.N. would like to go there. When 
Mr R.N., in a state of confusion after the severe physical abuse, replied that he 
would, the police officer struck him with his fist, accusing R.N. of intending to 
break into his house. When Ms L.J. protested, the same officer struck her. 



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Catnpland: Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 



Ms L.J. was then taken to the room where Mrs E.N. was. She saw that Mrs E.N. 
was red in the face and bleeding. Ms L.J. protested the beating of Mrs E.N. Reacting 
to this, police officers handcuffed her to the radiator. While Ms L.J. was sitting on 
the floor, handcuffed to the radiator, the police amused themselves by throwing 
firecrackers at her (it was New Year’s Eve). Then they brought Mr R.N. into the 
same room and made him stand against the wall, handcuffed. Officers forbade the 
Roma from speaking. When L.J. said something, officers made her stand up, go to 
the window, and then reportedly told her that she would have to remain standing 
by the window until morning. 

Because it was New Year’s Eve, toward the middle of the night, the police officers 
opened botdes of champagne. They pretended they were going to give some to the 
detainees, but at the last moment would pull the glass from their lips and jeer at 
them. Ms L.J. told them she didn’t want any, and officers then forced her to drink. 
Then they ordered Mr R.N. to stand up and “walk”. When he had taken two steps, 
one police officer tripped him up, and Mr R.N. fell down, hitting his face on the 
floor. His nose started bleeding, and he later discovered that it was broken . 78 

In another case of police ill-treatment of Roma, Mr M.S. also reportedly suffered 
physical abuse at the hands of police officers after he was detained in Palermo. His 
wife, Airs L.S. told the ERRC that he had been lying in the back seat of a car when 
the car was stopped by police for running a red light in Palermo. Officers then 
dragged him out of the car, put a truncheon below his chin and, holding the two 
ends of the truncheon, forced him to walk to a nearby police station. At the station, 
Air M.S. was made by officers to sit on a chair, handcuffed. Then they hit him with 
truncheons in the stomach, on the legs and on the back. They also struck him all 
over his body with their fists and they kicked him. After the beating, he was 
reportedly left tied to the same chair all night . 79 Air M.S. subsequently spent four 
months in jail for charges related to the incident and a pending arrest warrant. Mrs 
L.S, wife of Mr M.S., told the ERRC: “When [my husband] was released in 
September, four months after his arrest, and he came back home, he had changed 



78 Case summary based on European Roma Rights Center interview with Ms L.J. and members of her 
family, January 24, 1999, Palermo. 

79 Case summary based on European Roma Rights Center interview with Mrs L.S., January 24, 
1999, Palermo. 




: 40 

40 1 



Abuses by Police and Judicial Authorities 



completely. He would speak very little, and he wouldn’t eat. His spirit was 
completely broken. I insisted that he report the beating and that we complain 
somewhere, but he said that this would be very dangerous and that we would be 
killed if we complained.” 80 They did not complain. Mrs L.S. was very afraid of 
retaliation for having spoken with the ERRC. 

Sometimes, officers physically abuse Roma in public and in broad daylight. 
Thirty-eight-year-old Mr M.M. told the ERRC that on one occasion while he 
was begging with his four-year old child in a street of Mestre, in mid-December 
1998, a policeman got out of a car and without provocation punched him in the 
face. Then the officer took Mr M.M.’s child away from him. The child was 
eventually restored to the family. 81 Twenty-year-old Ms S.D. similarly reported 
to the ERRC that she was begging in downtown Pisa with her infant child, when 
a policeman came, accused her of theft, beat her and then let her go. 82 Forty-one- 
year-old Ms D.P. told the ERRC that when police see her begging in Venice or 



80 European Roma Rights Center interview with Mrs L.S., January 24, 1999, Palermo. 

81 Case summary based on European Roma Rights Center interview with Mr M.M., January 29, 1999, 
Mestre. Since Italian employers often will not hire Roma, begging is a common way for Roma to 
earn a living in Italy. There is no law against begging in Italy, but authorities often apply legal 
provisions outlawing the exploitation of minors. Children may be removed from their parents’ 
custody on such grounds. The Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported on April 4, 2000, that 
“Slajana”, an eight-year-old Romani girl had been taken into custody by police while selling flowers 
with her mother in Naples. She was then placed in a religious institution. She is reportedly one of 
fifty Romani children who had been taken from their parents and placed in the custody of other 
families or institutions in the three months preceding publication of the article. The Minor’s 
Adoption Law (184/1983), which treats children as abandoned if their parents cannot provide 
them with continuous moral and material support, leaves remarkable discretionary powers to the 
authorities applying it — powers easily abused by zealous, ignorant or racist authorities. Dr Luigi 
Lusi of the Office of Nomad Affairs of the City of Rome told the ERRC on March 5, 2000, that 
Romani children are commonly removed from their families because “they fail to integrate their 
children into Italian society by sending them to school” (see European Roma Rights Center interview 
with Dr Luigi Lusi, March 5, 2000, Rome). Dr Lusi additionally told the J5RRC on March 8, 2000, 
“If a Gypsy parent chooses not to send their children to school, the reasons are obvious: they have 
sent them out to steal and beg. They do not deserve what our country has to offer.” (see European 
Roma Rights Center interview with Dr Luigi Lusi, March 8, 2000, Rome). By contrast, Italian 
families who do not send their children to school are commonly fined 250,000 lira (approximately 
125 euros) for truancy under Article 731 of the Italian Penal Code. 

82 Case summary based on European Roma Rights Center intervie w with Ms S.D, January 18, 1999, Pisa. 

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41 



Campiand: Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 



Mestre, officers sometimes just tell her to go away, while others ask her to give 
them her bag “for a check”, and “confiscate” all money found. After taking the 
money, they threaten her and order her to go away. Other officers reportedly 
start by beating her and then take her money. 83 Other women and girls from the 
same camp near Venice reported similar experiences with the police when they 
beg. Many Roma in Italy told the ERRC that beatings are something to be expected 
from the police; “Life is like that,” said Ms D.P. 

Sixty- year- old Mr I.D. told the ERRC that at the end of November 1998, his 17- 
year-old nephew F.D. had been arrested and brought by police to the Coltano 
camp on the outskirts of Pisa, where he lived. There he was seen by Mr I.D., his 
wife, and also by other camp inmates. His face bore traces of a severe beating, 
including extremely swollen eyes. Later he was charged with stealing a car. 84 

In June 1994, officers reportedly detained Mr N.H. in Florence, drove him to an 
obscure location outside the city, where they severely physically abused him and 
then abandoned him. Mr N.H. filed a complaint with the police, including a detailed 
description of the officers who had assaulted him. To date, the police officers who 
abused Mr N.H. have not been brought to justice. 85 

Most instances of police abuse of Roma are never reported because the police 
threaten and harass Roma who dare to report illegal activities conducted by 
authorities. Mr Z.M. (28) is an ethnic Serb married traditionally, but not formally 
to a Romani woman. About three years before the interview with the ERRC , he 
was out begging with two Romani men in a central street in Mestre. Along came a 
car with three policemen, then another widi two more; they got out of the car and 
without provocation started beating him and his two companions. Mr Z.M. reported 
being hit hard with two fists simultaneously on both sides of the head. Officers 
also menaced the three men with firearms, then handcuffed them and took them to 
a police station. Officers searched Mr Z.M., but they found nothing to incriminate 



83 European Roma Rights Center interview with Ms D.P., January 29, 1999, Mestre. 

84 European Roma Rights Center interview with Mr I.D., January 18, 1999, Coltano camp, outskirts 
of Pisa. 

8:> See Colacicchi, Piero, “Down by Law: Police Abuse of Roma in Italy”, Roma Rights, Winter 1998, 
pp. 25-30 and at http://errc.org/rr_wintl998/notebl.shtmI. 



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hfliflaffBHaaaa 




42 



Abuses by Police and Judicial Authorities 



him; he also produced a valid residence permit. The police then threatened him 
and told him not to beg, and hit him again with their fists. They also spat at him, 
used profanities and told him to go “back to his country”. Then they told him that 
he was free to go, but did not return his car keys, which they had taken during the 
search. They formed a circle and tossed the keys from one policeman to another. 
Finally he was allowed to have his keys and was released. He complained of the 
incident to a social worker at the municipality of Mestre and was told that he 
should not complain officially, because “nothing would come of it”; so he did not. 



3 . 4 . Discriminatory Targeting of Roma by Police 

There are numerous allegations that police single out old cars in bad repair for 
control on die road, because it is assumed that such cars are owned by immigrants. 
They then reportedly directly ask whether the travellers are “Gypsies”, or assume 
that the occupants are Roma if they are dark-skinned. Abuse often follows. Ms 
M.D. told the ERRC, ‘When the police search our van, they throw everything out 
on the ground.” 86 Officers seeking to find Roma in violation of Italian laws are 
aided by Article 707 of the Italian Penal Code under which “unjustified possession 
of universal keys or locksmith equipment” is a crime. Under Article 707, Roma 
can and often are charged with crimes if caught in possession of tool chests. 



3.5. Theft by Authorities 

Italian police officers frequently steal from Roma during raids or when carrying 
out checks on Roma in the street. When Italian police steal from Roma they do it 
openly, taking whatever they want. 

Mrs Daniell Soustre de Condat, a non-Romani anthropologist and chair of the 
NGO International Committee for the Defense of Migrant Children (Comitato 
interna^ionale per la difesa dei bambini migranti), based in Palermo, told the ERRC 
that in her opinion, theft often occurs during police raids. The most revealing case, 
according to her, took place in Palermo, during a raid in June 1994 in the camp at 
Messina Marina Street, when a police officer took some jewels belonging to 18- 



86 European Roma Rights Center interview with Ms M.D., January 29, 1999, Mestre. 



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Campland: Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 



year-old Ms V.J. The police officer did this openly, saying that the jewelry had 
been stolen. He did not give the owner any receipt documenting the confiscation 
of the jewelry. Ms V.J., however, had been paying for the jewels in installments 
and had receipts from the jeweler's shop for the monthly payments. Through Mrs 
Soustre de Condat she contacted a lawyer and sued the perpetrator. The case was 
reportedly dismissed for lack of evidence. 87 Several Roma interviewed by the ERRC 
from camps in different parts of Italy gave similar testimonies of theft by police. 
Ms R.H., in the Muratella camp in Rome, said: "The police come often here and 
they are in the habit of taking things, especially gold and jewelry.” She told the 
ERRC that the police never give any documents when they take valuables. 88 Forty- 
two-year-old Mr F.S. of the Tor de' Cenci camp in Rome, described theft by police 
in similar terms: “Police enter dwellings brutally, search the place, and if they see 
something they like, they just take it. They never give a receipt or anything for the 
objects taken.” 89 

Thirty- two-year-old Mr V.M. and forty-year-old Mr T.J. live in different parts 
of the huge unauthorised Secondigliano camp in Naples. They were interviewed 
separately at their dwellings, but both told the ERRC the same story: when the 
police come for a control check or for a raid, they demand money, and the Roma 
give it to them. Mr V.M. stated that a “usual” amount is between 50,000 and 
100,000 lira (about 25 to 50 euros). Mr T.J. stated that police also take jewelry 
and never give a receipt. 90 Reports concerning unlawful confiscation have been 
received from Roma in the Secondigliano camp near Naples; and from Roma in 
camps located in Crotone, Palermo, Florence, Venice and the Veneto region. 91 
The ERRC is unaware of any police officers who have been disciplined or 
prosecuted for these crimes. 



87 European Roma Rights Center interview with Mrs Danicll Soustre de Condat, Palermo, January 
24, 1999. 

88 European Roma Rights Center interview with Ms R.H., January 20, 1999, Rome. 

89 European Roma Rights Center interview with Mr F.S., January 20, 1999, Rome. 

90 European Roma Rights Center interview with Mr T.J., January 22, 1999, Naples. 

91 European Roma Rights Center interviews in Florence, September 1997 and Naples, Crotone, Palermo 
and Venice, January 1999. 




Abuses by Police and Judicial Authorities 



3.6. Confiscation of Papers 

Besides beatings and degrading treatment, the ERRC was told of numerous cases in 
which police ask Roma for documents and when given diem, destroy them or threaten 
to destroy them. In other instances, police simply confiscate identity papers. Thirty- 
four-year-old Mr I.B. told the ERRC: “In the market place police ask to see our 
documents and accuse us of theft. Then they search us and our cars. If they do not find 
anything, they tear up our documents and tell us that they were false. Then they let us 
go.” 92 In the camp at Crotone, 54-year-old Mr T.N., originally from Kosovska Mitrovica 
in Kosovo, told the ERRC: “If you complain about anything, the police take away 
your documents.” 93 The ERRC also heard about one case of successful protest. Twenty- 
seven-year-old Mr R.P. told the ERRC that he was begging in Lodi (Lombardy) 
approximately ten days before the interview. The police stopped and asked him for 
papers. He gave them his papers and the police threatened to tear them up. Then he 
cried several times “official document”, and the police returned the papers and let him 
go. 94 One Romani man in the Eboli-Battipaglia industrial zone, Mr I.B., told the ERRC 
that police often demanded to see identification documents during raids, but that he 
and his family did not show them because they were afraid that the police might not 
return them “as revenge for having built shacks on an unauthorised site.” 93 



3.7. Sexually Abusive Searches of Women 

Another form of abusive behaviour by police officers, reserved especially for 
women, is “strip-searching”. 96 The ERRC collected testimony that indicates that 



92 European Roma Rights Center interview with Mr I.B., January 23, 1999, Naples. 

93 European Roma RJghts Center interview with Mr T.N., January 25, 1999, Crotone. 

94 European Roma Rights Center interview with Mr R.P., January 25, 1999, Milan. 

93 European Roma Rights Center interview with Mr I.B., January 23, 1999, Eboli-Battipaglia 
industrial zone. 

96 Strip-searches may violate international legal provisions guaranteeing freedom from inhuman and/ 
or degrading treatment, the right to respect for one’s private and family life, as well as of the 
principle of non-discrimination - i.e., inter alia. Articles 3, 8, and 14 of the European Convention 
on Human Rights respectively. 



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Camptand : Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 



strip-searches are accompanied by degrading treatment and sexual harassment. 
Twenty- eight-year-old Ms L.L. reported to the ERRC that she had been beaten and 
strip-searched by male police officers at a police station following accusation of 
theft when she was thirteen; her parents sued the police on her behalf, but the 
lawsuit dragged for several years, the family moved to another part of the country 
and “nothing came of it.” 97 Thirty- seven-year-old Mrs M.M. told the ERRC that in 
Rome, when Romani women are seen begging, they are often strip-searched. Police 
reportedly take the woman somewhere close to the place where she has been caught 
begging and order her to undress. Strip-searches take place in the Coliseum, in 
Piazza di Spagna and Termini Central Railway Station. Termini Station seems to 
be of worst repute: there the police have regular premises, where the victims are 
taken and strip -searched. 98 If the detained Romani woman refuses to undress, officers 
beat her. The strip-search is commonly conducted by either male or female police 
officers. Romani women interviewed by the ERRC stated that male officers 
occasionally demand sexual favours from them. There are additionally reports that 
police have cut off the hair of Romani girls found begging. 99 Many Roma also 
reported to the ERRC that officers frequently detain Romani women caught begging, 
bring them to remote areas, and leave them there. 

Strip searches of women by male police officers are illegal under Italian law. 
Article 79 of the Italian Criminal Procedure Code states: “Searches and personal 
inspections are performed by persons of the same sex as the person who is being 
searched, unless where this is impossible or absolutely urgent circumstances require 
otherwise or when the search is performed by a person in the health profession.” 
Additionally, Article 249(2) of the Italian Criminal Procedure Code states: “Personal 
searches are performed with respect to personal dignity and where possible, with 
respect to the modesty of the person being searched.” Article 609 of the Italian 



97 European Roma Rights Center interview with Ms L.L., January 28, 1999, Brescia. 

98 European Roma Rights Center interview with Ms M.M., January 20, 1999, Rome and European 
Roma Rights Center interview with Ms R.H., January 20, 1999, Rome. 

99 See European Roma Rights Center interview with Ms Remzija Sulejmanovic, November 24, 1998, 
Torino; she reported to the ERRC that her 14-year-old daughter Patricija had suffered this treatment 
in 1994. Other incidents of the practice were reported to the ERRC in Milan, Florence and Rome. 
See also Amnesty International, “Italy: Alleged torture and ill-treatment by law enforcement and 
prison officers,” April 1995, Appendix p.12. 





46 



Abuses by Police and Judicial Authorities 



Criminal Code states: “A public official who abuses his authority while carrying out 
a personal search or inspection shall be sentenced to up to one year imprisonment.” 
The ERRCknows of no case in which police officers have been disciplined or prosecuted 
for abusive searches of Romani women. 



3.8. Failure to Provide Proper Interpretation to Foreign Roma Accused 
of Criminal Acts 

On August 15, 1998, 42tyear-old Mr F.S., originally from Bosnia, was driving 
his car in the vicinity of his camp in Rome when he was stopped by a police 
officer. 100 She ordered him out of his car. She pointed a gun at him and ordered 
him to put up his hands. He did so. Then she shouted at him: “Don’t look at me, 
look at the ground!” and pointed the gun at his head. Mr F.S. was then taken to the 
police station and interrogated. He was made to sign a document which he did not 
understand well, as it contained complicated legal language. Nobody explained the 
document to him, they insisted only that he sign, and then they would let him go. 
He signed. Later, out of detention, he learned that he had signed a paper saying that 
he had been caught stealing a car and was charged with a criminal offence. 101 



3.9. Failure to Provide Information Concerning Detained Roma 

On another occasion, while the ERRC were interviewing Mr S.H. (40) from the 
former Yugoslavia in the Tor’ de Cenci camp in Rome 102 , a visibly agitated man came 
into the room and spoke to die interviewee. He stated that minutes beforehand, he 
and Mr M.H. (35), brother of the interviewee, had been stopped by police while 
driving together. Both were ordered out of the car and beaten with punches and 
kicks. The speaker was then released, but Mr M.H. was taken “to the nearest police 



100 European Roma Rights Center interview with Mr F.S., January 20, 1999, Rome. 

101 The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), at Article 14(3), provides, “In 
determination of any criminal charge against him, everyone shall be entitled to the following 
minimum guarantees, in full equality: (a) To be informed promptly and in detail in a language 
which he understands of the nature and cause of the charge against him; [...]” 

102 European Roma Rights Center interview with Mr S.H., January 20, 1999, Rome. 



ERiC" 



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Campland: Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 



station”. The ERRC team volunteered to go to the police station in question and make 
inquiries. After a long conversation following an initial refusal to allow the team to enter the 
police station at all, only one of them was let into the police station plus one interpreter, “for 
security reasons”. They were told by the officer on duty that nobody had been arrested that 
night. The ERRC team was skeptical as to whether they had been told the truth; in an attempt 
to check, the)' visited four more stations (three police and one carabinieri); in all places, knowledge 
of such an arrest was denied. The next day, the ERRC team was told by Mr S.H. that the 
victim had indeed been in detention in the first police station the ERRChad visited. He had 
been released in the morning, but had not returned to the camp and would “disappear” for 
several days, because he was afraid that police would detain him a second time. 103 



3.10. Threats and Police Violations of the Right of Assembly 

Police in Italy have recently attempted to intimidate Romani leaders organising 
in response to the rising tide of anti-Romani sentiment, evidently attempting to 
impede their right to freely assemble. On March 15, 2000, a meeting of Romani 
heads of families was called in Rome to discuss increasing police violence and the 
risk of expulsion. Italian journalists and observers were invited. On the way to the 
meeting, each of seven Romani heads of families was stopped in different locations 
by municipal police citing various misdemeanours, mostly traffic violations. All 
were reportedly given warnings by the officers during the checks such as, “It would 
be in your best interest to call off today's meeting.” 1 * 4 

Italian police have also reportedly recently attempted to intimidate members of non- 



103 The United Nations Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of 
Detention or Imprisonment, principle 16(1) states: “Promptly after arrest and after each transfer 
from one place of detention or imprisonment to another, a detained or imprisoned person shall be 
entitled to notify or to require the competent authority to notify members of his family or other 
appropriate persons of his choice of his arrest, detention or imprisonment or of the transfer and of 
the place where he is kept in custody.” 

104 European Roma Rights Center interview with Mr Stefano Montesi, March 15, 2000, Rome. Article 
11 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) guarantees the freedom of peaceful 
assembly. Article 11 protects not only public meetings but also private gatherings as well (see 
Switzerland 8191/78, (Dec.) October 10, 1979, 17 D.R. 93). Article 11 protects individuals as well 
as organisations. In attempting to obstruct meetings by Romani and human rights activists, Italian 
authorities may have additionally committed breaches of Article 9 of the ECHR, protecting freedom 
of thought, conscience and religion, and Article 10, protecting freedom of expression. 




48 



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Abuses by Police and Judicial Authorities 



governmental organisations working on behalf of Roma rights in Italy. A letter dated 
March 16, 2000, was sent by Mr Mario Vallorosi, director of the Immigration Office in 
Rome, to Mr Sergio Giovagnoli, the president of the local branch of the non-governmental 
organisation A RCI, and to Rome City Council member for social issues Mr Amedeo Piva. 
The letter was also copied to Dr Luigi Lusi, the City of Rome’s Advisor for Nomad Affairs; 
Dr Serpieri, director of Immigration and Nomad Affairs, and to several other City offices. 
In the letter, Mr Vallorosi complained about the actions of two members of v4RCI during 
police raids in the Via Carucci camp on March 3, 2000. The letter accuses the two of “uncivil 
conduct, aggression and obstruction of justice” with respect to two immigration officers. 
It asks for the punishment of the two members for the good of our “Gypsy friends” 103 
who deserve better assistance than what the two “undvil” workers can provide. The AlRCT 
members concerned have denied the accusations. 



3.11. Inadequate Sanction for Officers Who Abuse Their Authority 

When Roma are the victims of police abuse, the criminal justice system is 
ineffective. In one well-publicised case, Florentine police officer Riccardo Palagi 
was sentenced to one and a half years in prison in 1992 in a first instance procedure, 
after having been accused by many Roma among other things of destroying 
documents and physical abuse. Two years later he was acquitted after appealing to 
the Supreme Court. During the trial, the Florence police went on strike to protest 
against his indictment. There was broad popular support for Mr Palagi. 106 

Another example of inadequate response by authorities to police abuse is the so- 
called “White Fiat 1 case”. On the night of December 23, 1990, a car stopped near 
a Sinti and Roma camp in Bologna, and individuals inside shot rounds into the 
camp, wounding several people and killing two Sinti, Ms A. della Santina and Mr 
R. Pellinati. The car then sped off. For a long time the Italian media attributed the 
killing to rivalry between drugs or weapons dealers and to “Gypsy crime”, although no 
drugs or weapons had been found in the camp. Only after three carabinieri officers were also 



103 See letter from Mr Mario Vallorosi, director of the Immigration Office in Rome, to Mr Sergio 
Giovagnoli the president of the local branch of ARCI, and to Rome City Council member for 
social issues, Mr Amedeo Piva, March 16, 2000. 

106 See Colacicchi, Piero, “Down by Law: Police Abuse of Roma in Italy”, Roma Rights, Winter 1998, 
pp. 25-30 and at http://errc.org/rr_wintl998/notebl.shtml. 



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Campland : Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 



shot dead, with what proved to be the same weapons, did a real investigation begin. After 
some months, two Bologna policemen were arrested, tried and convicted for the killings. 107 



3.12. Discrimination by Judicial Authorities 

Romani defendants are subjected to pre-trial detention more often than non- 
Roma, and receive disproportionately severe sentences. 108 One police officer in 
Rome told the ERKC, “Roma [in Italy] are held in detention for longer periods of 
time and more frequently than non-Roma for the same offence.” 109 Since most of 
the Roma in Italy — and only Roma — live in camps, and camp addresses are not 
considered reliable, 110 Romani defendants are placed in pre-trial detention on flight- 
prevention grounds even for minor infractions for which non-Roma are routinely 
released. 111 Employing similar reasoning, judges often sentence Roma to prison 
terms for crimes which might, in other cases, merit non-custodial punishment. In 
one recent case, when Ms Ra2ema Hamidovic, a 42-year-old Romani woman who 
spent the first portion of her nine-year sentence in prison, asked to serve the 



107 Ibid , 

108 The discriminatory treatment of Roma in the judicial system violates Article 14 of the European 
Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), taken together with Article 6 of the ECHR. 

109 European Roma Rights Center interview with a police officer whose name is withheld, Rome, 
January 1999. Persons familiar with the Italian criminal justice process estimate that Roma and 
non-EU citizens run twice as high a risk to be sentenced to imprisonment, and spend on average 
30 percent more time in prison, than non-Romani Italians and EU-citizens convicted for the 
same offence. 

110 Persons living in camps are commonly provided with identity documents stating simply, “without 
address,” or providing only a collective address for the entire camp. 

111 On February 18, 1999, in denying a request for pre-trial release on the part of three Romani men 

detained on charges of burglary, Investigating Judge Antonio Crivelli in Florence highlighted 
what he referred to as “the risk of flight due to the fact that they are nomads without stable 
housing (Document No. 4359/98 RNR; No. 102980/98 R.G. G.I.P.). 



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Abuses by Police and Judicial Authorities 



remainder in a non-custodial capacity, the reviewing magistrate rejected the request, 
reportedly stating, “We cannot let her out! She is a nomad and will never report to 
us! If we let her go, we will never see her again !” 112 

Finally, the Italian government itself acknowledges that, notwithstanding the 
principle of equal treatment of prisoners, “in practice, there is no real guarantee 
that foreign citizens in prison will be treated like Italians .” 113 In addition to ill- 
treatment , 114 Romani inmates suffer disproportionately from prison regulations 
which do not recognise traditional and common law marriages, but reserve only to 
legal spouses the right to visit inmates . 115 



3.13. The Follow-up: Expelling Roma from Italy 

Allegations of abuse of Roma by police and other authorities is not a new 
development in Italy. The Concluding Observations concerning Italy of the 
United Nations Committee against Torture noted “a tendency to discriminatory 
treatment by sectors of the police force and prison warders with regard to 
foreigners,” and expressed “concern” regarding “the persistence of cases of ill 
treatment in prisons by police officers” and “a dangerous trend towards some 
racism, since the victims are either from foreign countries or belong to 



112 European Roma Rights Center interview with Ms Razema Hamidovic, January 21, 1999, Florence. 

113 United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, “Reports submitted by 
States Parties under Article 9 of the Convention, Eleventh periodic reports of States parties due in 
1997, Addendum, Italy”, CERD/C/317/Add. 1, 20 July, 1998, para. 30. 

114 See United Nations Human Rights Committee, “Summary records of the 1679 th meeting: Italy,” 
CCPR/C/SR.l 679, 28 July, 1998, para. 48 (noting “frequent cases of ill-treatment” [...] linked 
with the problem of racial discrimination.”). 

115 According to Italian law, only certain legally recognised relatives are granted the right to visit 
inmates without a special permission issued by the prison director upon presentation of a certificate 
concerning relationship to inmate - which, in turn, is to be obtained by the police (Circular of the 
Department of Penitentiary Administration (D.A.P.), 29 December, 1986 No. 3191/5641, para. 1). 
Reports indicate that the police often refuse to issue such certificates to Roma living in camps, 
apparently claiming that assessment of the type of relationship in such situations is impossible. 



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minorities.” 116 Amnesty International too has observed that “[a] high proportion 
of allegations [of police ill-treatment] concern immigrants from outside Western 
Europe — most of them from Africa — and an increasing number of Roma. [...] 
The most common forms of ill-treatment alleged are repeated slaps, kicks and 
punches, and beatings with truncheons, frequendy accompanied by general verbal 
abuse and, in the case of immigrants and Roma, racial abuse. [...] Officers attached 
to one city police force are said to have chained some immigrants to hot water 
radiators and transported others outside the city, removed their shoes and forced 
them to walk back barefoot.” 117 

The human rights situation of Roma in Italy has recently, however, entered 
a new phase. On March 3, 2000, more than four hundred municipal and state 
police conducted a pre-dawn blitz at the Tor de’ Cenci camp located on the 
northern periphery of Rome. The raid ended in the deportation of thirty-six 
Roma from Tor de’ Cenci, in explicit contravention of Article 4 of Protocol 4 
of the European Convention on Human Rights, which bans the collective 
expulsion of aliens. Another twenty Roma from the Casilino camp on the other 
side of Rome were deported on the same plane, victims of a simultaneous raid. 
The Tor de’ Cenci camp was shut down during the operation, and authorities 
in Rome have recently stated that they intend to shut down all unauthorised 
camps in Rome by the end of the year 2000. 118 Authorities in Italy now appear 
intent not only on raiding Romani camps, destroying property and homes, and 
forcing the Roma to move on; there now appears to be a new will to capitalise 
on intense anti-Romani sentiment in Italy by abusively expelling Roma from 
the country. 119 



116 United Nations Committee against Torture, “Concluding Observations of the Committee against 
Torture: Italy”, A/50/44, paras.146-158, 26 July, 1995, paras, 153-154. 

117 Amnesty International, “AI Concerns in Europe: January-June 1995,” September 1995, p.30. 

118 City of Roma Advisor for Nomad Affairs Dr Luigi Lusi, interviewed by European Roma Rights 
Center local monitor Kathryn D. Carlisle, March 8, 2000, Rome. 

119 According to the press office of the Italian Ministry of the Interior, in the period of January-May 
2000, there was an approximately 18% increase in the number of expulsions from Italy over the 
same period in 1999. According to the same source, the Ministry keeps no record of the number of 
Roma expelled. 




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Abuses by Police and Judicial Authorities 



According to media reports and eyewitness testimony, the March 3, 2000 raid at 
the Tor de’ Cenci camp, inhabited mainly by Roma from Bosnia, took less than 
three hours. All of the inhabitants of the camp were detained and subjected to 
checks. Those Roma who had valid permits issued by local police — reportedly 98 
out of 210 persons in the camp — were detained and brought to a nearby camp at 
Via Carucci, approximately fifteen kilometres from the camp at Tor de’ Cenci, 
also on the edge of Rome. Those Roma who did not have valid permits — reportedly 
112 individuals in total - were detained and subjected to numerous record checks 
and interrogations. Officials destroyed property belonging to Roma in the process 
of dismantling the camp and reportedly physically abused individual Roma. 
Journalists and monitors were not allowed to witness the operation, neither the 
breakdown of the camp, nor the deportation from the airport. Referring to the 
Roma concerned as “nomads”, Mayor of Rome Mr Francesco Rutelli stated in a 
faxed press release dated March 6, 2000, that the operation had been “successful” 
and that police had expelled “nomads involved in illegal activities” from Italy. 120 

A simultaneous operation, also aimed at Roma from Bosnia, took place in the 
Casilino 700 camp. According to witnesses, a squad of police and carabinieri violently 
entered the camp. Officials reportedly broke windows and used abusive physical 
force while detaining individuals, as well as insulting the ethnic origins of Roma in 
the camp. Authorities detained approximately thirty Roma from the upper right 
zone of Casilino 700 — known to be the “Bosnian” area of camp. 

Two police buses drove thirty-six Romani men, women and children from the 
Tor de’ Cenci camp to Rome’s main airport, Leonardo da Vinci, in the nearby 
suburb of Fiumicino. Upon arrival at the airport, the Roma were ushered through 
an alternate entrance, so that the expulsion, “for security purposes, would not 
attract public attention,” 121 according to Dr Luigi Lusi, the City of Rome’s Advisor 
for Nomad Affairs. The thirty-six Romani inhabitants of Tor de’ Cenci were then 
put together with twenty Roma from Casilino 700. In the end, fifty-six people 
were loaded onto an aircraft leased by the Ministry of the Interior, accompanied 



120 Press release from the Mayor of Rome, March 6, 2000. 

121 Dr Luigi Lusi, interviewed by European Roma Rights Center local monitor Kathryn D. Carlisle, 
March 8, 2000, Rome. 



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Campland: Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 



by an approximately equal number of military police. The plane departed from 
Rome for Sarajevo, Bosnia, at 2:55 PM. 

According to the Italian non-governmental organisation A.RCI , 19-year-old 
Ms Behara Omerovic was deported to Bosnia despite being in the fifth month of 
pregnancy. She was deported with her daughter Maddalena Hrustic who was 
born in Rome in February 1999. Sixteen-year-old Sanela Sejdovic was sent to 
Bosnia with her infant daughter Shelley Hrustic, born in mid-February 2000. 
One Romani boy, 15-year-old Mirsad P., was separated from his mother when 
police refused to believe that the woman with whom he was detained was not his 
mother. Authorities expelled Mirsad to Bosnia in his pajamas. His mother, 
Devleta O., was still in Italy as of May 23, 2000. 122 

Police and municipal officials refused to provide the ERRC with any information 
on either the raids, the detentions, or the group deportations. During the week 
following the raids, police returned frequently to the camp at Via Carucci. On 
March 4 at approximately 1:30 PM, more Roma were detained, but subsequently 
released. No expulsion orders were issued, but many Roma from the camp said 
that they felt threatened by the police. “One policeman told me that if I didn’t 
leave on my own, I would be sent away like the others,” 24-year old Mr S.D. told 
the ERRC 

On March 7, 2000, the ERRC sent a letter to Italian Prime Minister Mr Massimo 
D’Alema to express concern at the group expulsions. In the letter, the ERRC urged 
Prime Minister D’Alema to provide the public with an explanation as to the legal 
grounds for the action and to condemn forthwith policies targeting Roma for group 
expulsion from Italy. The ERRC further urged Prime Minister D’Alema to initiate 
thorough investigation into allegations that officers used excessive force while 
detaining individuals for expulsion and destroyed property belonging to Roma, 
and to punish strictly officers guilty of abuse. As of July 20, 2000, the ERRC had 
received no response to its March 7 letter, nor were there any indications that 
Italian authorities were acting on ERRC recommendations. 



122 Any act by a public authority aimed at separating those who have a family life together amounts 
to an interference with the rights secured under Article 8 of the European Convention of Human 
Rights. See especially European Commission on Human Rights, unpublished report on Cyprus v. 
Turkey , Vol. 1, p.163, para. 211. 




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Abuses by Police and Judicial Authorities 



Intense anti-Romani sentiment in Italy, widespread in popular attitudes, 
propagated by the Italian media and fomented by Italian politicians, is now finding 
expression in human rights violations targeting the Romani community. Italian 
authorities now appear to be in the process of attempting to remedy the appalling 
human rights situation of Roma in Italy by expelling them from the country. 



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Campland: Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 




Police raiding the Romani camp on Muratella street in Rome, Italy, May 2000. 
PHOTO: STEFANO MONTESI 




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Campland: Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 




Destruction of Romani dwellings, Casilino 700 camp, Rome, Italy, 
September 1999. 

PHOTO: STEFANO MONTESI 



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Campland: Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 




The Borgosatollo camp in Brescia, January 29, 1999. 
PHOTO: JERKC 





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Campland : Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 




Romani couple in the Germagnano street camp just outside Torino, northern 
Italy, November 23, 1998. The man in background is a police officer. On the 
day of the ERRC visit, officers came and compiled lists of local Roma, including 
photographs and fingerprints. 

PHOTO: ERRC 



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The remains of the home of Mr R.P. in Milan, one day after Italian authorities 
destroyed it with bulldozers on January 26, 1999. 

PHOTO: CLAUDIA FREGOLI 




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Camptand: Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 




Mr Vejsil Ahmetovic and his sister Sabaha Ahmetovic among other Roma 
applying for residence permits in Torino, Italy, January 1999. At the time the 
photograph was taken, Mr Ahmetovic had been without a residence permit 
since 1992. He was born in Torino. 

photo: ERRC 



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Catnplatid: Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 




A broken water pipe in Casilino 900 camp, February 24, 1998. 

PHOTO: ERRC 





Campland: Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 




Unauthorised camp in Naples, Italy, April 1, 1998. 

photo: errc 



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Nine-year-old Natali Marolli with her mother Biserka Nikolic, a 37-year-old 
Romani woman from Yugoslavia, in Meyer Hospital, Florence, January 17, 
1999. Police shot at the car in which both were passengers on May 22, 1998. 
Natali lost one eye and has been in a so-called “waking coma” ever since. 

photo: ERRC 



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Campland: Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 




Mr Lucan Dimitru, 44, from Bal$, Craiova County, Romania, staying on a 
streetcorner in Milan, April 17, 1999. 

photo: ERRC 



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Campland: Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 




The Borgosattolo camp in Brescia, January 1999: housing built with no 
municipal assistance. There is no adequate sewer system in the camp. 

photo: ERRC 




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Campland: Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 




Pisa: January 1999: Mr Avdush Hamiti, a Romani man who fled Kosovo in 
October 1998. 

photo: errc 




C: 




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Campland : Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 




Camps outside Florence, May 1999. 

photo: ERRC 





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Campland: Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 




Casilino 900 camp, Rome. In the 1970s, Roma from ex-Yugoslavia lived here in 
shacks, together with poor immigrants from Calabria and Sicily. The latter 
received housing in the blocks of flats in the background, when the shacks were 
bulldozed by the authorities. The Roma, however, received nothing and built 
new shacks. 

photo: ERRC 



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Catnpland: Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 




Camp on the outskirts of Florence, May 1999. 

photo: ERRC 





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Campland: Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 




Milan, April 1999: Roma sleeping on the street after having been expelled by 
municipal authorities from houses in the Via Castiglia. 

photo: ERRC 



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4. VIOLENCE AGAINST ROMA BY NON-STATE ACTORS 



Instances of crimes and brutal and degrading treatment of Roma by non-state 
actors — including episodes of community violence - have been documented in 
Italy. Often, when Roma are victims of rights abuse by non-state actors, the 
violations remain without judicial remedy. 123 

The Italian and international press reported on June 21, 1999, that an anti-Romani 
pogrom had broken out in the town of Scampia, on the northern periphery of Naples, 
an area comprising Italian housing projects and six Romani camps. According to reports, 
on Friday evening, June 18, 1999, a Romani man on a visit from the northern town of 
Verona ran into two local girls on a motor scooter with his car, seriously injuring 
both of them. He was reportedly drunk and speeding. After the incident, he fled the 
scene and had not been located as of June 24, 1999. The following morning, locals 
whom articles in the Italian press and television described as young men with shaved 



123 The European Court of Human Rights has held that Article 3 of the Convention, read in 
conjunction with Article 1, requires States not merely to refrain from torture or inhuman or 
degrading treatment or punishment, but also to “secure” this right by providing protection against 
ill-treatment by private persons. In Costello-Koberts v. United Kingdom the court held “that the 
responsibility of a State is engaged if a violation of one of the rights and freedoms defined in the 
Convention is the result of non-observance by that State of its obligation under Article 1 to secure 
those rights and freedoms in its domestic law to everyone within its jurisdiction” (Costello-Roberts 
v. United Kingdom, 19 EHRR 112 (1993), para. 26; see also, mutatis mutandis, the Young, James 
and Webster v> the United Kingdom judgement of 13 August 1981, Series A no. 44, p. 20, para. 49 
and A v . United Kingdom, Judgment of 23 September 1998, para. 22). Similarly, the United Nations 
Human Rights Committee has referred to a number of private actions threatening human rights 
and the State’s duty to deter such activity. In its General Comment of 1992, it clarified that the 
scope of protection to be undertaken by the State extends to cover torture, or other cruel, inhuman, 
or degrading treatment or punishment committed by people acting in their “private capacity” 
(HRC, General Comment 20, Article 7, Forty-fourth Session, 1992, para 2). The General Comment 
reads in part: “It is the duty of the State party to afford everyone protection through legislative 
and other measures as may be necessary against acts prohibited by Article 7 [i.e. torture, inhuman 
or degrading treatment], whether inflicted by people acting in their official capacity, outside their 
official capacity or in a private capacity” (Ibid., para 2). The Committee also declares that States 
should indicate the provisions of their criminal law which prohibit and specify the penalties 
applicable “whether committed by public officials or other persons acting on behalf of the State, 
or by private persons” (Ibid., para. 13). The references to private capacity and private persons thus 
leaves no doubt that Article 7 of the Covenant covers non-state actors. 




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Violence Against Roma by Non-State Actors 



heads and earrings, tattooed and riding scooters, armed with wooden clubs, guns and 
gasoline, entered one of the six Romani camps and told the inhabitants to “leave or be 
burnt with the camp”. They then set fire to the camp. The fires drove out all of the 
approximately one thousand inhabitants, who fled under a shower of applause from 
the neighbours on the surrounding balconies. The victims say police did not intervene 
to prevent the pogrom despite several calls to the emergency services. Approximately 
one thousand Roma escaped south to the town of Salerno, as well as north to the 
region of Lazio. The next morning, two hundred Roma returned and as of June 20 
were under police protection. Locals continued to throw firebombs into the 
smouldering barracks throughout the day and evening of June 20, despite police 
presence. At first it was thought that the attack was a settling of scores between local 
mafia and criminals among the Roma, but investigators have now excluded the 
involvement of organised crime. The father of one of the victims of the original incident 
was questioned by police after he told journalists that he and his neighbours had 
decided to take the law into their own hands. Two ethnic Italians and three Roma 
were arrested for looting following the fire. 124 According to information provided to 
the ERRC by local police on July 19, 2000, in connection with the massive episode of 
vigilante justice, arson and looting, an investigation was closed shordy after it was 
opened in June 1999, with no charges being brought against any persons. 

Abuse of Roma by civilians also takes place on an individual basis. Mr K.L. (22), 
a Romani man from Romania, provided the ERRC with the following account of 
human rights abuse which he had suffered on an unspecified date in the recent past: 
he often went to beg inside or in front of a supermarket and he also provided the 
service of helping shoppers load groceries into cars for a tip or else returned the 
cart for the coin inside the security lock. He had talked to the head of the 
supermarket, who had “nothing against” him begging there and had even given 
him some money himself. Some time thereafter, however, a new guard was hired 
and he warned Mr K.L. to go away. Mr K.L. was subsequently begging with his 
younger brother T.L. when the new guard came out of the supermarket, grabbed 
T.L. and slapped him several times in the face. He then took hold of Mr K.L. and 
beat him, threatened him with a knife and then cut him deeply on the hand and 
finger. The guard then held the knife to his face and threatened to cut his cheeks 
even more. However, the attention of shoppers inhibited the guard and he went 
away, having inflicted only a superficial wound on Mr K.L/s cheek and neck. 



124 See “Snapshots from around Europe”, Roma Rights 2/1999, at: http://errc.org/rr_nr2_1999/ 
snap03.shtml. 



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Mr K.L. proceeded directly to a hospital, where he was treated. He received 
six stitches and was advised by the physician not to use his hand at least for a 
week. Mr K.L. told the doctor the details of the incident. Upon his request, the 
doctor called the police for him and explained what had happened. The doctor 
also furnished Mr K.L. with a medical certificate documenting his wounds and 
the treatment he had received. 

The police arrived and took Mr K.L. to the police station. He entered the police 
station at around 7 PM. He told the ERRC that police treated him as if he were 
being arrested: the police photographed him, took away his shoe-laces and, without 
any explanation, left him in a locked room without food, water or medicine for 
the entire night. During the night he suffered pains from his newly stitched hand, 
but although he called for assistance, no one came. At around 8 AM the next day, 
he was given an order for his expulsion from Italy and told that he was free to go, 
but that he should leave the country within the period of time mentioned in the 
document. Officers reportedly refused to register his complaint. 125 

Ms L.J., a Romani woman from former Yugoslavia, reported to the ERRC 
another instance of unremedied violence. She stated that she and another young 
Romani girl, a relative of hers, entered a flat in Naples the night of November 1, 
1997, with the intent to steal, and were caught by the owner’s son. She was 
sixteen-years-old at the time. The man, around 25 years old, called friends on the 
telephone. Then a woman who was evidently his mother called the police. 
Meanwhile, the son started beating the two girls. His mother tried to stop him, 
but could not. The second Romani girl told the son that she was pregnant, but he 
slapped her anyway. He beat Ms L.J. with his open hands and fists and pulled her 
by the hair. She fell down, imploring, but he went on beating her. Then she 
kissed his hand and he stopped the beating. The “friends” came, but the police 
arrived at virtually the same moment. The Romani girls were arrested by the 
police and taken away. Neither of the two girls pressed charges against the man 
who beat them. 126 



125 



Case summary based on European Roma Rights Center interview with Mr K.L., January 27, 
1999, Milan. 



126 Case Summary based on European Roma Rights Center interview with Ms L.J., January 24, 
1999, Palermo. 





Violence Against Roma by Non-State Actors 



In Milan, the ERRC team was also shown parts of discarded or burnt furniture 
in the vicinity of the destroyed Via Castillia squatted house. There had been a 
bigger Roma camp there, approximately six months previously. The Roma had 
repeatedly received threats from non-Roma in the neighbourhood that they should 
go away. Then one night in December 1998, two of the caravans caught fire and 
burned; the Roma suspected they had been set on fire purposefully. Mr. F.Z. of the 
Anti-Racist Association (a \ ssocia%ione Antirazgista) was also there at that time of 
the ERRC visit. He called the hostile attitude to Roma in the neighbourhood 
“popular racism”. 127 

According to the government’s own count, the number of “incidents of racial 
intolerance” increased from 51 in 1996 to 85 in 1997. 128 The ERRC regards the 
government’s figures as a drastic underestimate of the true number of racially 
motivated crimes taking place in Italy yearly. Official figures on racially motivated 
crime are especially doubtful in fight of the tendency by government officials to 
deny that racially motivated crimes take place in Italy or equivocate as to the 
existence of racially motivated attacks. 129 



127 European Roma Rights Center interview with Mr F.Z., January 27, 1999, Milan. 

128 United Nations Human Rights Committee, “Summary Record of the 1679 lh meeting: Italy”, CCPR/ 
C/SR.1679, 28 July, 1998, para. 27. During the first two months of 1998, the Italian delegation 
said that eight such incidents had been reported. 

129 In its last appearance before the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, members 
of the Italian delegation stated: “Italian society did not breed sentiments of a racist nature. [...] 
Incidents that could be classified as incidents of “racism” normally fell into different categories. 
[.. .] The fact of attacking or beating non-Europeans usually had little to do with racial discrimination. 
In most cases, the behaviour originated in a compelling urge to give reign to the most violent 
instincts.” (United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Summary 
record of the 1075 th meeting: Italy”, CERD/C/SR.1075, 6 March, 1995, para. 18). More recently, 
on May 3, 2000, the Italian delegation told the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social 
and Cultural Rights that there was “not so much a problem of discrimination against Roma people 
as a problem of intolerance. In some towns with a large Roma population, Roma people sometimes 
jumped the queue to obtain housing, which could cause resentment among the local population.” 
(See “Summary Record of the 6th Meeting: Italy (E/C.12/2000/SR.6), 3 May 2000”). 



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Campland: Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 



5. DISCRIMINATORY TREATMENT OF ROMA IN THE PROVISION OF 
PUBLIC SERVICES 

The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial 
Discrimination, a Convention that binds Italy, prohibits discrimination in access 
to any place or service intended for use by the general public. 130 Nevertheless, the 
ERRC has documented numerous instances of discriminatory treatment of Roma 
in the provision of public services in Italy. 

On June 2, 2000, staff at a cafe in the Via della Mercede in Rome refused to allow 
entry to ERRC volunteer Mariangela Prestipino. Ms Prestipino is dark-skinned. 
After a brief discussion, the staff member apologised, allowed Ms Prestipino to 
enter, and explained that he had thought she was a “Gypsy”. In another case, Mrs 
V.H. (59) told the ERRC in January 1999 that three years previously, she had 
entered a cafe in the vicinity of the camp in Mestre and asked the waiter for a cup 
of coffee. He reportedly answered: “Gypsies are not allowed entry here.” 131 Ms 
M.D. similarly told the ERRC : “Every time we enter a store, they usually recognize 
us as being Sinti. They lock the door and check the till. Then they look around the 
store checking the goods. If they decide that something is missing, they call the 
police. We are then searched. But we have been charged with theft even when 
nothing was found on us.” 132 On December 26, 1997, the daily II Manifesto reported 
that a bar in San Salvario, a district of Turin, pursued a policy of not serving 
foreigners. According to the article, no group is actually banned, as such a practice 
would be illegal. Rather, the bar staff is under orders not to serve foreigners. 133 
Similarly, on March 29, 1998, another article in II Manifesto reported that the owner 



130 The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, at Article 
5, states: “In compliance with the fundamental obligations laid down in Article 2 of this Convention, 
States Parties undertake to prohibit and to eliminate racial discrimination in all its forms and to 
guarantee the right of everyone, without distinction as to race, colour, or national or ethnic origin, 
to equality before the law, notably in the enjoyment of the following rights: [...] (f) The right of 
access to any place or service intended for use by the general public, such as transport, hotels, 
restaurants, cafes, theatres and parks.” 

131 Curopcan Roma Rights Center interview with Mrs V.H., January 29, 1999, Mestre. 

132 European Roma Rights Center interview with Ms M.D., January 29, 1999, Mestre. 

133 The Institute of Race Relations, European Race Audit , Bulletin No. 26, February 1998, p.22. 

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Discriminatory Treatment of Roma in the Provision of Public Services 



of a pizza restaurant in Ventimiglia had attempted to charge a Romani customer 
extra for a pizza solely because of his ethnic origin . 134 Roma in Florence told the 
ERRC that they patronize only the few bars in the city where “no one bothers us 
about who we are .” 135 The ERRC is aware of one Florence cafe which recently 
posted a sign at the entrance stating, “No Gypsies .” 136 Another sign posted in the 
town of Cairate (close to the northern town of Varese) was printed by the city 
itself. It reportedly stated “Camping and loitering by ‘nomads’ is severely prohibited. 
Transgressors will be punished by law .” 137 



134 The Institute of Race Relations, European Race Audit , Bulletin No. 28, October 1998, p.25. 
133 European Roma Rights Center interviews, Florence, January 1999. 

136 European Roma Rights Center interviews, Florence, January 1999. 

137 See Dragutinovic, Op. at. 

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6. DENYING ROMA THE RIGHT TO EDUCATION IN ITALY 



Memorandum No. 207 of July 16, 1986, of the Ministry of Public Education 
stipulates, “[a]ll those who reside in Italian territory have full access to the various 
types and levels of Italian schools, even if they are not Italian nationals; any hostility 
towards them, or reluctance constitutes a manifest breach of the civil and constitutional 
principles of the Italian state.” 138 Several subsequent circulars by the Ministry reaffirm 
this principle. These legal measures notwithstanding, a dramatic number of Romani 
children in Italy are effectively precluded from access to education. Many Romani 
children who live in segregated housing effectively have no access to the Italian school 
system. Distances are often exacerbated by frequent evictions. During raids, police 
authorities often destroy the school supplies of Romani children. Many Roma are too 
poor to afford decent clothes, school supplies and the transportation necessary to ensure 
regular attendance by their children. As a result, many Romani children do not attend 
school at all, or drop out at an early age. At present, the Italian educational system is 
dramatically failing to meet its international commitments where Roma are concerned. 139 



138 Council of Europe, European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), “Legal Measures 
to combat racism and intolerance in the member States of the Council of Europe” (1998), p.276. 

139 Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), states: “Everyone has the right to 
education.” The right to education is elaborated in a number of international laws and instruments, 
including the Convention of the Rights of the Child. Article 29(1) of the Convention states: “States 
Parties agree that the education of the child shall be directed to: (a) the development of the child’s 
personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to the fullest of their potential; (b) the development 
of the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and for the principles enshrined in the 
Charter of the United Nations; (c) the development of respect for the child’s parents, his or her own 
cultural identity, language and values, for the national values of the country in which the child is 
living, the country from which he or she may originate, and for civilizations different from his or 
her own; (d) the preparation of the child for responsible life in a free society, in the spirit of 
understanding, peace, tolerance, equality of sexes, and friendship among all peoples, ethnic, national 
and religious groups and persons of indigenous origin; (e) the development of respect for the natural 
environment.” The international community has repeatedly enshrined in law the principle that 
education, as a fundamental right, shall be free of discrimination. Article 5(e)(v) of the Convention 
on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), for example, states that “States 
Parties undertake to eliminate racial discrimination in all its forms and to guarantee the right to 
everyone, without distinction as to race, colour, or national or ethnic origin, with respect to the 
right to education and training.” Article 2 of Protocol 1 to the European Convention of Human 
Rights states: “No person shall be denied the right to education. In the exercise of any functions 



Denying Roma the Right to Education in Italy 



In numerous cases, Roma live in camps far away from schools. There is no school 
nearby or public transportation available, placing significant burdens on Romani 
parents. Additionally, repeated raids and destruction of dwellings and property of 
Roma by police significantly interfere with the ability of Romani children to realise 
the right to education. When the camp Tor de’ Cenci was raided and dismantled on 
March 3, 2000, for example, the remaining inhabitants were transferred to a temporary, 
p re- fabricated camp, Via Salvia ti, organised by the City of Rome. The children were 
disturbed and agitated, and therefore missed that day of school. Many lost their school 
supplies as officials tore down their shacks with bulldozers. Two days following the 
raid, the Office of Immigration entered die Via Salvia ti camp and ordered inhabitants 
to move to the Casilino camp. Casilino is on the opposite side of Rome and it can take 
as long as two and a half hours to cross Rome in the morning. This raised the problem 
of how to get the children to the school in which they were enrolled. Also, it was 
more or less an open secret that following the raid, the Casilino camp was being used 
as a temporary base for those about to be deported. Many of the Via Salvia ti inhabitants 
with school-age children went into hiding elsewhere to avoid being expelled from 
Italy; as a result, their children were effectively pulled out of school. 

In the industrial zone of Eboli-Battipaglia, the ERRC visited an unauthorised camp 
on January 23, 1999, that had been destroyed the previous day. The ERRC was 
shown around the camp by 34-year-old Mr I.B. and his wife, who was nursing a small 
baby. They have nine children, aged from fourteen years to eleven months. Since 
1990, when they arrived in Italy, they have not received residence permits; the last 
time they applied was a month and a half before the ERRC visit. They had been 
living in unauthorised camps. Authorities have repeatedly evicted them from sites 
on which they were living, forcing them to find other places to live. However, their 
four children of school age have attended school continuously since their arrival. 
Their parents have walked or driven them to and from school every day. During the 
raid the previous day, they had not been allowed time to gather all their possessions. 
Several schoolchildren’s textbooks were scattered on the ground, trampled by the 
officials who had destroyed the camp. The parents told the ERRC that on the morning 
after the raid in which police authorities had again destroyed their dwellings and 
possessions, they had driven their four children to school in their old van, and that 
they would pick them in the afternoon. They did not keep their children home from 
school, although the whole routine of their life had been disrupted. 



which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents 
to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own religious and philosophical 
convictions.” Italy ratified Protocol 1 on October 26, 1955. 



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Catnpland: Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 



Many of the Roma interviewed by the ERRC stated that the single largest obstacle 
to the education of their children is lack of money. Many Romani families report 
that they are ashamed to send their children to Italian schools dressed shabbily. For 
example, Mrs M.V. (39), a Romani woman bom in the former Yugoslavia who had 
come to Italy with her husband’s family from Romania, told the ERRC that she did 
not send her children to school because she did not have the means to buy them 
decent clothes. 140 School supplies and transportation pose additional financial burdens 
often difficult to surmount or insurmountable for poor Romani families in Italy. 

Nevertheless, Italian programs aimed at Romani education have not been designed 
to overcome the significant financial burdens placed on Romani families, nor to 
aim at their integration into the mainstream of the Italian school system. In 1966, 
the Ministry of Public Education and the organisation Opera Nomadi established a 
program called “Lado Drom” to offer special classes for Romani children. Originally 
365 Romani children were accepted in the program in the city of Verona. 141 During 
the approximately fifteen years of the program's existence in that city, the location 
of the classes was changed four times, but always remained on the periphery of the 
city. The teachers complained of disorder and neglect on the part of the public 
administration. One teacher reportedly wrote in her notes, “The room is never 
properly cleaned by the custodians: the windows are grimy, floors dusty, desks 
unwiped. ” The overriding idea of the program was evidently to keep Romani 
children out of Italian schools and to “civilise” them. Another teacher wrote, “A 
school for Gypsies cannot offer normal programs, but must be adapted to the level 
and intellectual capabilities which are primitive and uncivilised.” Another teacher 
complained that she was “tired of pretending that Gypsies could be civilised... 
especially when they haven’t received the word of God [Christianity].” 142 In 1976, 
a new agreement between the Ministry and Opera Nomadi turned the “Lacio Drom” 
classes into remedial classes and set up sixty primary school classes for Roma. 143 



140 European Roma Rights Center interview with Mrs M.V., January 18, 1999, Florence. 

141 Of the 365 students, 62% were enrolled for only one year, 21.6% for two years, 9% for three years, 
4.4% for four years and 2.1% for five. See Piasere, Popo/i, Op. cit. } p. 204. 

142 Ibid . , p.206. 

143 See Save the Children , “Denied a Future? The Right to Education of Roma, Gypsy and Traveller 
Children”, First Draft, March 2000, p.103. 



Denying Roma the Right to Education in Italy 



The program effectively ended in 1982 when a new agreement between the Ministry 
and Opera Nomadi provided that Romani children of school age should be educated 
in mainstream classes. The agreement also stipulated that an additional teacher 
should be allocated to provide assistance for each six Romani pupils and act as go- 
between for school and family. 144 

More recently, authorities have attempted to transfer responsibility for the 
education of Romani children onto non-governmental organisations (NGOs), with 
little better success. Authorities in Pisa, for example, recently commissioned a local 
organisation to provide lessons in Italian for children in the authorised Coltano 
camp in Via Hidrovola. Children attending the NGO classes would not be taught 
by professionally certified teachers and would not receive official grades. They 
would not qualify for secondary school through the program. Prior to initiating 
the classes, in early 1999, the NGO approached the parents in the camp and asked 
them to fill out detailed questionnaires about their family and children. The parents, 
most of whom did not have valid residence permits, were afraid that their answering 
the questionnaire might be used against them by the police, making it more difficult 
to obtain a residence permit. They therefore equivocated, and the project stalled. 
The NGO in question further antagonised the Roma of the Coltano camp by 
announcing their intention to use a Muslim prayer room in the settlement for the 
classes. The Roma refused, on grounds that they had the permission of the local 
authorities to use the room for religious services. Local authorities, however, 
reportedly sided with the NGO, withdrew their permission, and ordered the Roma 
to give the room over. On January 18, 1999, the ERRC was conducting interviews 
in the Coltano camp when representatives of the NGO arrived in a car, escorted 
by two uniformed and armed policemen in another car. The NGO representatives 
had come to collect the filled-out questionnaires and to take possession of the 
disputed room. As expected, there were practically no questionnaires ready, and 
local spiritual leader Mr I.D. informed representatives of the NGO that the 
community would not turn over the prayer room. A heated argument ensued, 
which lasted about two hours. The argument was closely monitored by police, but 
officers did not intervene. Finally the NGO people left with the ultimatum that 
the room should be turned over to them on the next day. They did not specify 
what would happen if this did not occur. The ERRC learned that, one week later. 



144 Ibid., p.103. 



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Camphtuk Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 



the Roma were compelled to give up the prayer room. In the circumstances, the 
success of the training course is to be strongly doubted. 

Romani children who attend normal schools face difficulties ranging from prejudice 
on die part of non-Romani parents who do not want their children attending school 
with “Gypsies,” to bullying by non-Romani classmates, to stereotyping by teachers 
and school administrators who perpetuate myths of “genetically” lower intelligence 
levels among Romani children. 143 Schoolteachers have stated to ERRC representatives 
that Romani children disturb lessons with “their odour” and that parents do not 
want their children to associate with “the same people they should learn to fear.” 146 
Between 1962 and 1986, in the province of Verona there were 136 expulsions of 
Romani children from schools — 92 of which were reportedly for “hygienic” reasons. 147 
One representative of the Florence municipality told the ERRC in January 1999 that 
children from six Romani families who moved to a new school in Florence in 
September 1998 had been confronted by angry protests from non-Romani parents 
who threatened to withdraw their children rather than have them share the same 
benches with Roma. Rather than affirming the rights of Roma to equal education, 
the school administration reportedly dispersed the Romani children among several 
different schools to assuage non-Romani prejudice. 

A serious impediment to the child’s tight to an education in Italy is the camp 
system itself. Camps effectively preclude the important education that takes place 



14 ^ In Concluding observations concerning Italy, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of 
the Child expressed concern “that sufficient measures had not been taken to assess and provide for 
the needs of children from vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, such as [. ..] children of foreign 
and Roma origin. ” Among its suggestions and recommendations, the Committee stated that 
“[fjurther measures should [...] be taken to prevent a rise in discriminatory attitudes and prejudices 
towards particularly vulnerable children such as [...] Roma children and foreign children. The 
Government should consider adopting a more active stand and coherent policy with respect to the 
treatment of these children and to create an environment favourable to their fullest integration 
into Italian society. ” (United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, “Concluding 
observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child: Italy”, CRC/C/1 5/Add. 41, 27 
November, 1995, paras. 11 and 17). 

146 European Roma Rights Center interview with Simona Mattera, ex-elementary school teacher in the 
City of Rome public school district, March 23, 2000. 

147 Piasere, Popoli , Op cit:, pp. 186-1 87. 





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Denying Roma the Right to Education in Italy 



outside the framework of school; Romani children are rarely if ever invited to non- 
Romani children’s homes and non-Romani parents do not allow their children to 
visit Romani friends in camps. As a result, both Romani children and non-Romani 
children are denied important lessons. The burden falls, however, mainly on Romani 
children; for those Romani families which arrived in Italy thirty years ago and 
remain confined to camps, a third generation is now growing up with effectively 
severed ties to the wider surroundings. 

The Italian educational system fails to guarantee equal access to education for 
Roma. Roma suffer abuse, segregation and discrimination in Italian schools. 
Authorities have recently made statements linking education to criminality, 
promoting the idea that if Romani children are in school, they will not be out 
stealing or pick-pocketing . 148 As long as authorities proceed from racist prejudice 
about Roma while designing policy, there is little hope that Roma in Italy will be 
able to enjoy the right to education. 



148 Recent proposals by Rome City Council Member Mr Amadeo Piva and City Advisor for Nomad 
Affairs Dr Luigi Lusi envision that more hard tactics are what is needed to bring Roma into the 
school system. Dr Lusi told Ms Kate Carlisle, local monitor for the ERRC: “Parents will have to 
sign a form promising to send their children to school. If the children are found truant, then the 
Gypsies will be sent away.” (See Dr Luigi Lusi, interviewed by European Roma Rights Center local 
monitor Kate Carlisle, March 8, 2000, Rome). 

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Campland : Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 



7 . THE RIGHT TO EMPLOYMENT 

There is a high rate of unemployment among Roma in Italy and the ERRC 
encountered few Roma with regular work paying a dignified wage . 149 A few formal 
employment opportunities are available in the camp system. Some Roma are 
engaged in traditional crafts. Others perform seasonal agricultural or fishing work. 
Some engage in very rudimentary entrepreneurial work. Others beg. Many are 
simply idle. 

Some Roma produce traditional crafts for sale. The ERRC witnessed a copper 
bracelet being made by a Romani smith on the morning after their camp had been 
destroyed by the police and they had slept in their cars in front of a dilapidated 
house at the outskirts of Eboli-Battipaglia. He worked in the open. The ERRC was 
also shown copper bowls and large copper vases made by the family of Mr E.BA 0 
The family told the ERRC that they would try to sell them in Salerno or Naples. 
The family of N.S. in Campo Masini, Florence, specialised in the production of 
small items made of leather. The family of Mr L.J. in the Favorita camp, Palermo, 
specialised in reeds. They made baskets and other items for sale. The ERRC was 



149 The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, at Article 23, provides for the right for all to work. 
Article 7 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights states that everyone 
has the right to work, including to just and favourable conditions of work [...]”. Paragraph 2 
of Article 23 of the Universal Declaration states: “Everyone, without any discrimination, has the 
right to equal pay for equal work.” Article 23(3) states: “Everyone has the right to just and favourable 
remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and 
supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.” The International Covenant on 
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) elaborates these fundamental rights. At Article 6, 
the CESCR states: “The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right to work, which 
includes the right of everyone to the opportunity to gain his living by work which he freely 
chooses or accepts, and will take appropriate steps to safeguard this right. The steps to be taken by 
a State Party to the present Covenant to achieve the full realization of this right shall include 
technical and vocational guidance and training programmes, policies and techniques to achieve 
steady economic, social and cultural development and full and productive employment under 
conditions safeguarding fundamental political and economic freedoms to the individual.” Article 
2(2) of the CESCR provides: "The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to guarantee 
that the rights enunciated in the present Covenant will be exercised without discrimination of any 
kind as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, 
property, birth or other status.” 

lo ° European Roma Rights Center interview with Mr E.B., January 23, 1999, Eboli-Battibaglia. 



8 4 



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The Right to Employment 



told by a group of Italian Roma at the illegal housing site in Crotone that they used 
to practice metalwork, but the business was no longer viable, so now their major 
occupations were seasonal agricultural work and fishing. 101 The same pattern of 
employment change had reportedly taken place among Roma in the authorised 
housing site of Roppoli in Cosenza. Some itinerant Roma with whom the ERRC 
spoke were self-employed as horse-traders. 152 A family in the Via San Donnino 
camp, Florence, told the ERRC that they sold flowers in markets in Florence. 

Other Roma try to find an employment niche arising from living in the camp. 
In the Casilino 700 camp, at the time of the .ERRC visit in January 1999, Mr M.D. 
was engaged in making a small stove out of metal scraps and pieces scattered in 
front of his cabin. His son, around twelve years old, was helping him, while his 
wife and some smaller children watched. Mr M.D. told the ERRC diat he had nine 
children altogether and had been in Italy since 1991 and in this camp since 1993. 
The ERRC saw stoves similar to the one he was building in many camp cabins all 
over Italy; it was a low-standing contraption with one short pipe, burning wood or 
coal and used both for heating and cooking. The craftsman told the ERRC that it 
took him five or six days to make one stove; they would sell for about 100,000 lira 
(around 50 euros). He told the ERRC that he did not work at this job regularly, for 
both the metal materials and clients for such stoves are hard to find. In several 
camps, the ERRC observed shacks used as improvised cafes and grocery stores. 

Another camp-created employment opportunity is repairing cars and trailers; 
such was the employment of, for example, 28-year-old Mr Z.M. in the authorised 
Zelarino camp, Mestre. Residents of the camp were also evidently employed in 
repairing and improving their shelters, despite the fact that they could have no 
guarantee that the police might not destroy them at any moment. The ERRC 
interviewed 39-year-old Mr M.M., who was engaged in building a shack in the 
above-mentioned authorised Zelarino camp at Mestre. 153 He had decided to build 
a shack because his trailer had burned in an accidental fire the previous week. 
Mr M.M. was helped by his brother, who lived in the Secondigliano camp in 



101 European Roma Rights Center interviews, January 25, 1999, Crotone. 

102 European Roma Rights Center interviews, January 23, 1999, Cosenza. 

103 European Roma Rights Center interview with Mr M.M., January 29, 1999, Mestre. 



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Camptand: Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 



Naples and had travelled to Mestre expressly to help with the construction. His 
ten-year-old son also helped him. Besides some old boards and pieces of plywood, 
they were using some new planks and nails that they said they had bought from 
a store in Mestre. Mr M.M. explained that by trade he was a builder of brick 
stoves and fireplaces. He stated that if he managed to get a job building a fireplace 
he would likely be paid adequately, but that such jobs were very rare, so he was 
improving his shack now. Meanwhile, his wife would go out begging regularly 
to provide food. 

The administration of camps also provides some job opportunities. Authorised 
camps in Italy all have a gatekeeper, which is a regular position paid for by the 
municipality. This person checks people entering and leaving the camp and has the 
authority to deny entrance or exit. In a number of camps visited by the ERRC, the 
gatekeeper was Romani, and often a resident of the camp. In the camp of Olmatello, 
Florence, besides the Romani gatekeeper, there were around a dozen Roma 
employed as cleaners. There were around 350 persons living in the camp at the 
time of the ERRC visit. For the rest of the Roma there did not seem to be any job 
opportunities at all. 



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The Right to Employment 



8. CONCLUSIONS RACIAL DISCRIMINATION 



The physical separation of Roma from non-Roma in Italy is so drastic that in 
many ways it overshadows all other issues. Many of the other human rights issues 
which Roma in Italy face would be of completely different proportions if Roma 
were not ghettoised into authorised camps or fully excluded from any decent living 
arrangement whatsoever. Abuses in the course of systematic raids would be 
inconceivable without the vulnerability resulting from the exposure of camp life. 
Discussion of the right to education for Roma in Italy would be very different if 
Romani children were not hindered from school attendance by physical separation 
from the Italian school system. The extreme nature of the segregation of Roma in 
Italy, however, has perhaps obscured from view issues facing Roma whose alienation 
in Italy is not enforced with a fence and a gatekeeper. Absent the dramatic trappings 
of segregation, the heart of the issue — racism and discrimination on ethnic grounds 
— comes clearly into view. 

The housing estate next to Via Timarone Rosso in Roppoli in the Cosenza 
region appears, superficially, integrated. The eight blocks of flats were inhabited 
by twenty Romani families (about 150 persons altogether) and fifty non-Romani 
families at the time of the ERRC visit in January 1999. The project was started 
twenty years ago; the last block of flats was built around ten years ago. The 
Roma told the ERRC that they had been itinerant before settling there. Forty- 
year- old Mr A.M., said that he was fourteen when his family came to that region 
and twenty when the family settled down and were given a flat. 134 Mr A.M. and 
his mother, 72-year-old Mrs A.D., told the ERRC that their traditional occupation 
before settling was horse-trading. When they settled, they became seasonal 
agricultural workers, helping to harvest olives and tomatoes. Mr A.M. said that 
he also did some fishing. Nevertheless, they stated that finding work was often 
difficult. The flat the ERRC visited consisted of four rooms in which an extended 
family of seven live; the flat was well-furnished and hygienic, with all necessities. 
The family paid monthly rent to the municipality, which owns the flat. The 
older Roma speak Romani and Italian; the younger Roma who have grown up 
on the estate do not speak Romani, only Italian. Despite their “integrated” setting, 



134 'European Roma Rights Center interview with Mr A.M., January 23, 1999, Roppoli, Cosenza. 



ER?C 



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Campland: Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 



however, Roma in Roppoli reported that police regularly target them for inquiry 
when there has been a theft in the area. Mr R.P. told the ERRC: “Somebody 
steals something and the blame is always on us.” 1 ” Additionally, the Roma of the 
Roppoli housing estate feel estranged from all their non-Romani neighbours; 
even where non-Roma live in the same block of flats, there do not seem to be 
relations across the ethnic line. 

The only housing project for immigrant Roma visited by the ERRC was in 
Florence. The estate occupies a space of approximately two thousand square 
metres at the margin of an area occupied by blocks of flats. There are four rather 
handsome one-story houses. A young Romani woman told the ERRC that they 
have water and electricity; all the children go to school and speak Italian. 
Everything in sight produces the impression of a successful, albeit very small 
project. Around three hundred Romani families live in nearby camps. The 
housing estate was given exclusively to members of the extended family and 
relatives of the informal Romani leader of the camp, who is also the owner of a 
small coffee and food shop in the camp itself. Unable - or unwilling - to provide 
all Roma with adequate housing free from racial segregation, authorities in 
Florence bought their leaders with houses. Roma living in the Florence camps 
complained to the ERRC that authorities use the promise of providing houses 
outside the camp manipulatively, to reward “good behaviour”. By this they 
mean not only that individuals should stay away from crime, but also that they 
should spy and report on other camp inhabitants. 

In search of the Romani camp in Crotone, the ERRC asked directions from 
several persons who had made a bonfire on the sidewalk of a small dusty square. 
These people turned out to be Roma who lived in an unauthorised settlement 
just fifty meters from the nearby camp. However, they insisted that they were 
“Italians”, and only the camp people were “Roma”. They told the ERRC that 
they had lived in Italy for many generations; they were all Italian citizens. At the 
time of the ERRC visit, they lived in makeshift houses looking rather like large 
shacks; the walls were made of patches of brick, plywood, plastic, corrugated 
iron and other scrap. There was electricity in some of the houses, and water taps 
could be seen here and there. The Roma complained that they could get no 
assistance from the local municipality; frequently the water and electricity were 



155 



European Roma Rights Center interview with Mr R.P., January 23, 1999, Roppoli, Cosenza. 



Conclusion: Racial Discrimination 



cut off. They send their children to the local school. However, most of them 
drop out after a few years of schooling. The Roma in Crotone appeared to have 
little or no contact either with immigrant Roma living in the camp or with non- 
Roma. They seemed completely isolated. 

Obviously aware of the stigma attached to the Roma/Gypsy identity, these 
local or “autocthonous” Italian Roma were adamant in stressing their difference 
from the immigrants, the camp Roma who lived fifty metres away. The ERRC 
team was advised not to go to the nomad Roma camp, because it was a very 
dangerous place, and also because there were cases of cholera there. As it turned 
out later the same evening, when the ERRC visited the “dangerous” camp, there 
was no cholera, but only a recent case of food poisoning, that had led to the 
death of one person. The “dangerous” inhabitants of this Crotone camp were 
Muslim Romani immigrants from Bosnia and Kosovo. 

At the heart of Italy’s treatment of Roma is racism — the entrenched conviction, 
often unconsciously held and acted upon in ignorance, that Roma are strange, 
biological others who do not belong in Italy and whose presence in the country 
is unfortunate. Roma are merely tolerated in Italy in the best of times, but today 
racism and xenophobia in Italy are at flood tide. Roma, weak and exposed, suffer 
daily human rights abuses. Italian authorities have acted ineffectively to counter 
these abuses, and have failed even to provide a rudimentary legal framework 
within which such abuses could be redressed. 

On the one hand, legislation prohibiting racial discrimination per se appears to 
provide for inadequate remedies and has not been widely publicised. The European 
Commission against Racism and Intolerance has recently concluded that, “In Italy 
there is no general legislation to counter racial or ethnic discrimination.” 136 Apart 
from 1993 amendments to the criminal code (which address the dissemination of 
racist speech and racially-motivated violence), Italian law affords “little ammunition 
against racial discrimination or other outward forms of intolerance.” 137 Immigration 
legislation adopted in July 1998 appears to provide limited protection against racial 



156 Council of Europe, European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), “Legal Measures 
to combat racism and intolerance in the member States of the Council of Europe” (1998), p. 261. 



157 Ibid., p.263. 

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Campland: Racial Segregation of Rotna in Italy 



discrimination. 138 However, the scope of the protection afforded therein is unclear 
and the remedies provided are inadequate. 159 

In July 1999, a bill being debated by the Italian Chamber of Deputies on the 
protection of linguistic minorities garnered enough support for passage only after 
reference to Roma — and therefore legal protection for Romani language and 
culture — had been deleted. 160 Similarly, after the Italian government 161 and others 162 
had praised draft immigration legislation for granting legal non-citizens the right 
to vote in local elections, this provision was deleted from the law before it was 
finally adopted. 163 



1:>8 Legislative Decree No. 286 (“Testo unico delle disposizioni concenenti la disciplina delPimmigrazione 
e norme sulla condizione dello straniero”), formerly Law No. 40 of 6 March, 1998. See Arts. 43 and 44. 

I:>9 The law does not authorise the imposition of criminal penalties in the event of a finding of 
unlawful discrimination. 

160 While Article 1 of “Progctto di legge” No. 169, the initial proposal, submitted by Deputies Corleone, 
Boato and Ruffino, made explicit reference to the linguistic and cultural rights of the Romani minority, 
the version voted on by the Chamber on June 17, 1998, and transmitted to the Senate on June 18, 
1998 (“Disegno di Legge” No. 3366), deleted any reference to Roma. The law in its adopted form 
states, at Article 2, “[...] the Republic protects the language and culture of Albanians, Catalans, 
Germans, Greeks, Slovenes and Croatians, and of those who speak French, Franco-Provincial, Friulian, 
Occitanian and Sardinian.” There is currently no law in Italy which expressly protects the linguistic 
and cultural rights of the Roma minority. As of August 1, 2000, Italy had not ratified the Council of 
Europe’s European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. 

161 See United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, “Reports submitted 
by States Parties under Article 9 of the Convention, Eleventh periodic reports of States parties due 
in 1997, Addendum, Italy”, CERD/C/317/Add. 1, 20 July, 1998, para. 26. 

162 See Council of Europe, European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), “ECRI’s 
country- by-country approach: Volume III” (15 June, 1998), p.33. 

163 Legislative Decree No. 286 (“Testo unico delle disposizioni concenenti la disciplina delPimmigrazione 
e norme sulla condizione dello straniero”), formerly Law No. 40 of 6 March, 1998. Some who 
successfully sought to delete from the bill voting rights for legal non-citizens suggested that such a 
provision would contravene the Italian Constitution, which grants the right to vote to Italian citizens 
only. See Constitution, Article 48(1) (“All private citizens, male or female, who are of age, are entitled 
to vote”)- However, this did not prevent Parliament from including in the final version of the adopted 
legislation a grant of voting rights to non-Italian EU citizens. 





Conclusion: Racial Discrimination 



On the other hand, the Italian government has not acted to ensure that what 
legislation does exist is effectively implemented in practice. The ambiguity and 
resulting inadequacy of Italy’s legislative norms on racial discrimination are 
compounded by the failure to ensure their effective implementation. 164 Thus, 
notwithstanding the general constitutional provision on equality (Article 3), “there 
is no case-law on the subject of racism.” 163 Furthermore, there appears to be no case 
law concerning the few legislative prohibitions against non-violent acts of 
discrimination which do exist. 166 

The Italian government has yet to provide information to counter the widespread 
impression that most and-discnmination norms in Italy are unused and unknown. 
Government officials, representatives of non-governmental monitoring 
organisations and members of the bar with whom the ERRC has spoken expressed 
near-universal uncertainty about the provisions of the laws, the scope of their 
applicability, and the frequency with which they are in practice applied to concrete 
cases of discrimination. In short, there is little indication that the government has 
undertaken any substantial public education effort to ensure that these laws do not 
remain unimplemented. 

As to 1993 criminal law modifications which apply to racially motivated violence 
and hate speech, at the March 1995 session of the Committee on the Elimination of 
Racial Discrimination, when the Italian government’s eighth and ninth periodic reports 
were considered, the Italian delegation claimed that, “[a]s a direct effect of the new 
legislation [to combat racism and discrimination], the number of acts of intolerance, 
discrimination and racial violence had drastically decreased.” However, die government 
has been unable to provide any information concerning the frequency or effectiveness 



164 The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) noted in its most recent report 
on Italy, that, “[djespite [a] relatively well-developed legal framework, Italy seems to face some 
problems with implementation of legislation in force, and ECRI feels that it is precisely this aspect 
of implementation which should be examined.” (ECRI, “ECRI’s country-by-country approach”, 
Op. cit., p.34). 

163 ECRI, “Legal Measures” Op at., p.263. 

166 See for example ECRI, “ECRI’s country- by- country approach” Op. at., p. 34 (“there appears to be 
no case-law” concerning the anti-discrimination provisions of the labor law, Section 15(2) of Act 
No. 300 of 1970 (“Workers’ Statute”)). 

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of judicial remedies for racially-motivated violence, stating simply that “proceedings 
under the new legislation had not yet been concluded, with the result that final 
judgements were not yet available, although many decisions had been taken by the 
judiciary under the 1975 legislation.” 167 Unfortunately, the Government report 
submitted to the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial 
Discrimination three years later provides no further elaboration on this point. In 
short, intensive research as well as regular monitoring by the ERRC have failed to 
uncover evidence which might contradict the July 17, 1998, finding of the United 
Nations Human Rights Committee Chairperson (Ms Chanet) that, in Italy, “[...] 
little progress had been made in action to combat racism [. . ].” 168 

In its Concluding Observations concerning Italy of March 1999, the United 
Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) 
condemned the treatment of Roma in Italy. In particular, the Committee expressed 
concern “at the situation of many Roma who, ineligible for public housing, live in 
camps outside major Italian cities,” and stated that “in addition to a frequent lack 
of basic facilities, the housing of Roma in such camps leads not only to a physical 
segregation of the Roma community from Italian society, but a political, economic 
and cultural isolation as well.” The CERD further lamented “the continuation of 
incidents of racial intolerance, including attacks against foreigners [...] and against 
Roma, [...] which are sometimes not recognised by the authorities as having a racial 
motivation or are not prosecuted”; “reports of acts of violence and bad treatment 
by police and prison guards against foreigners and members of minorities in 
detention”; and “the apparent lack of appropriate training for law enforcement 
officials and other public officials regarding the provisions of the Convention.” 
The Committee also expressed concern that in the draft law on minorities presently 
pending in the Italian Senate, “Roma [are] not considered as a minority and thus 
would not benefit from the protection offered by [the] law.” 



167 United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Summary record of the 
1075 th meeting: Italy”, CERD/C/SR.1075, 6 March, 1995, para. 20. 

168 United Nations Human Rights Committee, “Summary record of the 1680 th meeting: Italy”, CCPR/ 
C /SR. 1680, 24 September, 1998, para. 70. In its Concluding Observations concerning Italy, the 
Human Rights Committee expressed concern “at the increase of incidents of racial intolerance,” 
and recommended that “all measures by way, for example, of legal constraint and education be 
continued to eradicate this phenomenon.” (United Nations Human Rights Committee, “Concluding 
Observations of the Human Rights Committee: Italy”, CCPR/C/79/Add.94, 18 August, 1998, 
para. 18). 



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Conclusion: Racial Discrimination 



In view of these serious deficiencies, the Committee recommended that the 
Italian government undertake a number of measures, including the following: 
“strengthen its efforts for preventing and prosecuting incidents of racial intolerance 
and discrimination against some foreigners and Roma people, as well as of bad 
treatment of foreigners and Roma in detention”; “give more attention to the 
situation of Roma in Italy, with the view to avoid any discrimination against 
them”; “include in its next report statistical data on the ethnic composition of 
the country,” in particular “the percentage of Italian citizens of foreign origin 
and the number of non-citizens living in Italy”; “include information on the 
implementation of Article 6 of the Convention [concerning legal remedies for 
racial discrimination], including the number of cases dealt with by the relevant 
authorities and courts of justice”; “intensify [...] education and training of law 
enforcement officials” about racial tolerance and human rights; and establish a 
national human rights commission to address concerns relating to minority issues 
and discrimination. 

Today, more than one year after the CERD’s strongly worded findings and 
elaborate list of recommendations, it is difficult to see any real effect of the CERD’s 
criticism. The will to expel Roma from Italy has grown, and prominent politicians 
put forward real proposals that police should be allowed to shoot at boats carrying 
foreigners in the Adriatic. Aggressive and abusive raids by police and other 
authorities have continued apace. Italian politicians have publicly offered hate 
and been rewarded by popular support. The public has lent its support to parties 
offering messages of hatred toward Roma and other groups. Those Italian 
politicians who have refrained from anti-Romani speech have remained silent, 
possibly in the keen awareness that the wind is blowing with those who hate. 
Moreover, response by other European countries has been close to non-existent; 
while Europe has shunned Austria since the xenophobic Freedom Party entered 
the Austrian government, there has been little to no response to the rise of radical 
hate in Italy. 

The present surge of Italian hostility to foreigners and Roma is now regularly 
played out in abuses against Roma, whether in the form of disruptive and humiliating 
police raids, in which property and homes are torn to shreds and left in heaps of 
rubble, or in the form of offensive, degrading, racist speech by public servants, 
speech which scars all Roma in Italy and renders impossible a dignified life for 
Roma there. The time has come, finally, for effective international response to the 
Italian situation. 



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9. A JUST SETTLEMENT: RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE EUROPEAN ROMA 
RIGHTS CENTER TO THE GOVERNMENT OF ITALY: 



The European Roma Rights Center urges the government of Italy to adopt all of 
the following policies: 



1 . Cease discriminatory expulsions of Roma and group expulsions targeting Roma; 

2. Facilitate the return of Romani persons illegally expelled from Italy, and provide 
compensation for material and emotional or other damages caused by illegal 
forcible removal from Italy; 

3. Cease abusive police raids; bring collective police action into line with 
international law; 

4. Provide compensation to persons whose dwellings or property has been 
destroyed or damaged in the course of abusive raids by Italian authorities; provide 
financial support for the reconstruction of Romani camps and/or housing 
destroyed by the Italian government during raids; 

5. Thoro uglily investigate all allegations of alleged police brutality, theft and other 
corrupt behaviour, as well as other forms of abuse, and bring errant police 
officers to justice; 

6. Immediately conduct comprehensive investigation into the shooting of Natali 
Marolli and bring to justice the officer or officers responsible for the shooting; 

7 . Investigate thoroughly all allegations of inactivity by police investigation authorities; 

8. Undertake critical review of all Italian legislation regulating police behavior; 
initiate reform in cases where domestic law contradicts international standards 
set down in the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials (1979) 
and the Basic principles of its implementation adopted by ECOSOC in 1989, as 
well as in Resolution 690 (1979) of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council 
of Europe: Declaration on the Police; 





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A Just Settlement: Recommendations of the ERRC to the Government of Italy 



9. Provide training to the police in human rights norms and international standards 
on police behavior, as well as sensitivity training with respect to Roma; 

10. Provide trustworthy and reliable avenues for the reporting of police abuse to 
Romani individuals who have suffered abuse. Publicise the existence of such 
avenues widely; 

11. Sanction inciteful hate speech against Roma to the fullest extent of the law, 
especially hate speech by public officials; 

12. Thoroughly investigate all reported allegations of racially motivated crime against 
Roma and bring perpetrators to justice; 

13. Gather statistics on ethnically and racially motivated crime, including figures 
on perpetrators, victims, defendants of racially motivated crime, as well as 
individuals charged, individuals convicted and individuals sentenced in 
connection with racially motivated crime; 

14. Implement measures to abolish segregation in the field of housing in Italy, 
including but not limited to abolition of the system of segregated dwelling 
areas known as “camps for nomads”; as swiftly as possible, implement 
measures aimed at integrating Roma fully into Italian society in the sphere 
of housing and ending both state-sponsored exclusionary policies as well as 
similar practices by private actors; 

15. Make adequate housing available to Roma: in accord with international norms 
on adequate housing, provide for: (a) legal protection of tenure and protection 
against forced eviction, harassment and other threats; (b) availability of services, 
including access to safe drinking water, energy for cooking, heating and lighting, 
sanitation and washing facilities, means of food storage, refuse disposal, site 
drainage and emergency services; (c) affordability; (d) habitability, including 
adequate space, adequate provisions to ensure physical safety, and protection 
from cold, damp, heat, rain, wind or other threats to health, structural hazards, 
and diseases; (e) accessibility, especially to disadvantaged groups such as the 
elderly, the physically disabled, the terminally ill, HIV-positive individuals, 
persons with persistent medical problems, the mentally ill, victims of natural 
disasters or people living in disaster-prone areas; (f) adequate location, allowing 
access to employment options, health-care services, schools, child-care centers 

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Campland: Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 



and other social facilities, and away from polluted sites or pollution sources; 
and (g) cultural adequacy; 

16. Proceed with speedy legalisation of Romani settlements and other dwellings of 
Roma not presently legally registered; 

17. Initiate measures to ensure that all Roma in Italy currently without residence 
permits are provided with assistance in acquiring one; facilitate access to Italian 
citizenship for Roma who have resided in Italy for five years or more; 

18. Produce comprehensive and accurate statistics on the number of persons in 
Italy who are presently without the citizenship of any country; 

19. Initiate measures to ensure that Roma in Italy without valid residence permits 
in Italy are provided with clear and accessible procedures for legalising their 
status in Italy, regardless of their country of origin; 

20. Recognise Roma from Kosovo as refugees under the 1951 Geneva Convention 
Relating to the Status of Refugees and grant them asylum status; 

21. Investigate allegations of racial discrimination in the criminal justice system; 

22. Provide racial tolerance training for judges and other members of the judiciary; 
provide international law training for judges and other members of the judiciary; 

23. Sanction strictly instances of abuse of Romani children by teachers, 
administrators or other pupils in the Italian school system; 

24. Provide financial assistance to Romani families for the purchase of school 
textbooks and materials; 

25. Address immediately all problems barring Romani children from integration 
into the mainstream of the Italian educational system; adopt an action plan 
for overcoming all barriers to the full integration of Roma in the Italian 
education system; design and implement programs for the Italian school system 
to heighten awareness of Romani history, culture and language among Roma 
and non-Roma; provide adequate transportation in each district for Romani 
children to be taken to school; 



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A Just Settlement: Recommendations of the ERRC to the Government of Italy 



26. Make available to all Romani communities in Italy legal services to compensate 
for the relative exclusion of Roma from Italian society and the Italian legal 
system; guarantee immediate access to legal counsel from the moment of 
detention and throughout preliminary investigations for all those detained. For 
those who cannot afford legal counsel, provide such assistance free of charge, as 
required by Article 6(3) of the European Convention on Human Rights; 

27. Undertake affirmative action in hiring Roma and other minorities in public 
employment including the police force, local government and the judiciary; 

28. Remedy problems of high unemployment among Roma by adopting and swifdy 
implementing policies aimed at their integration into the mainstream of Italian 
economic life; 

29. Design and implement public education programs aimed at reducing the current 
high levels of anti-Romani sentiment in Italian society; 

30. Proceed with a speedy ratification of Protocol No. 12 to the European Convention 
on Human Rights (ECHR), adopted by the Committee of Ministers on June 26, 
2000, which broadens the scope of ECHR Article 14 on non-discrimination; 

31. Bring legislation and practice into conformity with the European Council 
“Directive implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons 
irrespective of racial or ethnic origin”, adopted by the Council on June 29, 2000. 




97 



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Campland: Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 



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1997. 





Appendix 



11. APPENDIX 



FROM BAD TO HORRIFIC IN A GYPSY GHETTO* 

by Kate Carlisle 



Twelve kilometers from the center of Rome, Elena is sitting outside her rust-eaten 
camper with her 3-year-old son on her lap. Her gaze is lost in the strands of matted hair 
that tumble out of her headscarf. One of her large, brass earrings has fallen off and lies, 
temporarily forgotten, next to her rubber flip-flops. Mourning the death of her month- 
old daughter, she has been crying for eight days. “My baby Margota didn’t have to 
die/’ Elena sobs. “But now what will I do if they take me far away from her grave?’’ 

Elena, who doesn’t give her last name, is a 19-year-old Gypsy. More correcdy put, 
she is a Rom. She and her family live in Casilino 700, so-called after its street address. 
It’s one of the 36 Romani camps in and around Italy’s capital city. Italians have given 
the camps various nicknames. They are called the favelas of Italy, after the shanty 
towns that ring Rio de Janeiro; Casilino is called Little Calcutta. With 1,600 inhabitants, 
Casilino is the largest Romani camp in Western Europe. And Elena’s problem is 
simple: The municipal government is dismantling it. 

Casilino is 30 years old, and for much of that time, it existed in an uneasy peace 
with the rest of Rome. But the fall of the Berlin Wall and the conflicts in the former 
Yugoslavia created a new wave of Roma immigration into Italy. Eager to escape poverty 
and discrimination - or violence in such places as Kosovo — Roma began pouring into 
Italy in the early 1980s, and the flow hasn’t ceased since. Elena and her family fled 
their home in Romania, where the daily violation of Romani rights — police beatings, 
murders, segregation, and the like — is well documented. She is now one of 100,000 
Roma living in Italy, 40,000 of whom have come from the former Yugoslavia. 

The Romani camps are a political issue as well as a social problem. Indeed, in my 
visits to the camps, I accompanied representatives of the European Roma Rights Center, 
which is evaluating the human rights situation of the Roma in Italy. It’s tricky terrain. 
On one hand, Italy prides itself as a nation with sound social policies and a long 



This article first appeared in business Week on June 19, 2000. 

oL 1,7 To? 



Campland: Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 



tradition of charity. But the friction caused by the Roma is mounting, as it is in other 
European countries with Romani minorities. Many Italians look upon the Roma as 
nothing more than criminals, pickpockets, beggars, and all-around undesirables. 

The decision to dismantle Casilino was announced last year by Mayor Francesco 
Rutelli after one of the many deaths of children in the camps. But the city’s policy, 
and the summary manner of carrying it out, many say, has made things worse. 
Elena’s deceased daughter is a grim example. She choked on her vomit while 
separated from her mother during a police raid. 

For Elena and other Roma, daily life is a precarious exercise in improvisation, 
involving everything from begging to scavenging to day labor. Less than a third of 
the Roma now in Italy have resident permits; by law, even those bom here are not 
guaranteed citizenship. So for some, dismantling the camp will be followed by 
expulsion - which means a one-way ticket back to their countries of origin. And the 
city government makes no apologies. It asserts that clearing out the camps is essential 
to fight crime and improve conditions for the Roma. But the city administration’s 
perspective, it must be said, is something less than sympathetic. “Gypsies tend to 
destroy everything that makes a camp function, leaving them in horrible shape,” says 
Luigi Lusi, a consultant “for nomad affairs” appointed by the mayor. “It is our task 
to weed out the bad ones and send them away.” FIRESTORM. Few Italians question 
the notion that the Roma camps have become a problem - for those who live in 
them as much as for the rest of Rome. There are no public services in Casilino : no 
gas, no electricity. Rats cross the camp’s unpaved roads fearlessly. Before the authorities 
began dismantling Casilino last year, it had all of nine chemical toilets - one for every 
180 people. But does Rome have programs in place to improve the Roma’s lot? Or is 
it effectively reinforcing the notion that they must live in isolation? For many, these 
are urgent questions. “There’s no doubt that something has to be done about Casilino,” 
says Lieutenant Ferdinando Bucci, who formerly worked in a police unit assigned to 
the camp. <r But the ‘how’ and ‘what’ leave a lot of room for criticism.” 

As things now stand, Casilino will be gone by the end of June. But the fate of its 
residents is provoking a firestorm of controversy. Rutelli has ordered some 
inhabitants transferred to camps that are still “authorized” in various neighborhoods 
around Rome. But after widespread protests in the neighborhoods, deportations 
have been on the rise. So far this year, according to Rom Riunirci, a research 
organization concerned with Romani affairs, more than 550 Roma have been 
expelled from the Rome area. Such actions are drawing heavy criticism from 





108 



Appendix 



international human rights organizations. “The expulsions have broken every rule 
in the book,” says Claude Cahn, publications director of the European Roma Rights 
Center in Budapest. “The European Convention on Human Rights prohibits mass 
expulsions. And this is not to mention the Italian laws that were breached.” 

Although the government insists that it has done nothing wrong, it even singles 
out Roma in national legislation. When Parliament approved the protection of 
ethnic and linguistic minorities last year, it excluded Romanes, the Romani language, 
from the law. But there is some resistance among legislators. A group of center-left 
parties is now preparing a bill to strengthen existing laws to protect Romani rights. 

As with non-European citizens in Italy, Roma have the precarious label of 
extracomunitari, meaning they come from outside the European Union. As Luigi 
Lusi’s tide indicates, the government still considers them nomadic — and not in need of 
housing. But this is an outmoded idea: While some Roma still travel, many have left 
the road behind. “It is obvious that we no longer harness up the horse and move from 
place to place daify,” says Ivo, a Bosnian who abandoned a four-bedroom house and a 
job as a metalworker... “Not even my grandfather was part of the traveling culture.” 

Politicians are taking full advantage of the xenophobia aroused by a wave of 
petty crime linked to immigrants and Roma. At a recent rally for a legislator from 
the conservative Northern League, flyers made racist fun of the Roma. A week 
later an angry mob led by the same candidate attacked a camp of Roma on the 
outskirts of Milan. 

Casilino provokes similar anger. The mayor and the media call it everything from 
“a breeding pot for thieves” to “a 20th century plague in the making.” <f Brace yourself, 
and then go to Casilino ,” advises Dimitrina Petrova, director of the European Roma 
Rights Center. Casilino 700 was one of many sites she visited on her mission in Italy 
— and one of the worst. It says something about Italy, surely, that leaving a camp such 
as Casilino inspires more fear and pessimism than hope. If its conditions are unhealthy, 
most of the Roma feel that to exist in a ghetto is preferable to expulsion, which is fast 
emerging as the government’s favored solution. For the Roma, the solution of choice 
seems to lie between the less frightening of two nightmares. 



ERIC 



109 



.109 



Campland: Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 



12. SUMMARY IN ROMANI: E EUROPAKO ROMANO CENTRO VASH E 
ROMENGE CHACHIPENA DEL RAPORTO PALA E ROMENGI 
SITUACI JA ANDI ITAUJA 



O rajo Paolo Frigerio, an 17.05. 2000, sherutno manush andar Italiako foro 
savesko anav si Cemusco sul Naviglio (savo perel an provincija Milan) kerda jekh 
oficijelno skrinisaripe/ramosaripe. E zumalura thaj e televizija trade avri informacija 
kaj kava sherutno forosko manush phenda kaj ka pokinel pandz milionura lire 
andar e forosko fondo e manushenge save kamen te shuven gunoj po than kaj e 
roma shuvde pire karavanura/kampura an kava foro. O sherutno manush rajo 
Paolo Frigerio phenda: “ Numaj kana shuvel pe’ o gunoj po than kaj e Roma sesa 
pire karavanonenca shaj hosel pe’ o melalipe save von keren kana dzan po aver 
than . Si vi aver manusha ande Italija save chi kamen e Romen. Jekh politikaki 
partija(grupo) savi akharel pe’ Lega Nord sajekh oficijelno vorbil kontra e Roma. 
Kana sasa regionalno politikako alosaripe/elekcija an Italija o rajo Umberto Bossi 
dija pe but thana e lila an save phenda “ Te chi kames e Romen, e manushen andar 
o Maroko thaj e deiikventuren an tjiro kher , te kames te aves sherutno an tjiro 
kher , te kames te tjiro foro avel uzo de tjiro glaso pala amari politikaki patija”. Pe 
regionalne alosaripa save sesa an 16. 04. 2000 e politikake partije save si pe chachi 
rig thaj vi e partija savi akharel pes Lega Nord phende an piri kampanja sa majbilache 
pala e nacionalne minoritatura save train an Italija. Varesave politikake partie uzes 
phende sa majbilache pala e Roma. An foro savo akharel pe’ Voghera o rajo Aurelio 
Torriani savesko politikako gindipe dzal pe chachi rig (pe nacionalistikani rig) 
skrinisarda/ ramosarda thaj dija e manushen e lila an save phenda: “E Roma ka 
alosaren /ka den piro politikako glaso e rajo savo akharel pe 5 Antonella Degradi. 
Kamen vi tumen te ladzaren korkore tumen?” E manusha save kamen kadi partija 
kerde vi jekh gilji thaj dije lake anav “Romani devleski gilji” o teksto si: “ De amen 
jekh miliono po jekh chon, e foroske chi trubun e love pala khanchi aver, shuv/ 
tho amen pe majangluno than e lilesko pala e manusha save adzukaren te o foro 
del len o kher, godolese/vash-odi kaj amen sam nomadura thaj phiras tele-opre 
thaj chi kamas te mudarel amen o Voghero thaj e gadze save trajin ando foro.” O 
teksto kadale giljaskr sas ramosardo pe lila savi sas reklama kadale partiake pala e 
politikake alosaripa. 

Kadala nacionalistikane ramosaripa save vazde e italijake politikakemanusha 
phabarde bari jag mashkar e manusha save trajin an Italija. Na- dumutane rodipa / 
ankete phenen kaj e italijake manusha chikamen vol daran e Romandar vi kana chi 





110 



Summary in Romani 



dzanen khanchi lendar. Italijako zurnalo “La stampa” ramosarda an artiklo savo 
inkljistilo an 21. V. 2000 kaj e oficialno regionalno institucija IRES an foro Piedmont 
kerda anketa e italijake na-romane chavrenca (pe anketa sas 1,521 chavre katar 
ohto dzi kaj 9 bersh) te dikhen sostar e na-romane chavre daran. Tranda thaj shov 
procentura phende kaj majbut daran katar e droga, katar e Roma thaj katar e 
manusha andar o Maroko. Ohtovardesh thaj duj procentura phende kaj si len dar 
god ole se kaj godo sikada len lengi familija, dad, dej, e sikavne ande shkola. An 
1999 bersh o Dokumentacioino centro savo zutil e nomaduren thaj savo beshel an 
Sant’ Edigio regija kerda jekh anketa an savi puchla: “Kamen te e nomadura shuven/ 
thon pire karavanura an kava regiono?” Eftavardesh procentura e manushendar 
save lije than an anketa chi kamle e nomaduren an lengo regiono. Lengi explanacija 
sas kaj e nomadura choren, kaj si melale, kaj choren e chavren. 

E baza pala gasavo Italijake manushengo gindipe pala e Roma si fakto kaj von 
gindin kaj si e Roma nomadura. Pe agor e ohtoto decenija an kava milenijum thaj 
po starto an injato decenija bish regionura ande Italija krerde nevo zakono savo 
akharde “protekcija vash e nomadengi kultura” thaj sar posibiliteto te realizuin 
kava zakono kerde specijalne kampura pala nomadura. Kava projekto si kerdino 
godolese kaj oficijelno gindipo sas kaj e Sintura thaj e Roma si nomadura thaj von 
shaj train numaj an karavanura ande izolacija dur katar Italijake civilura. Sar 
rezultato but Roma si tradine te train ande kampura pal “lengo mangipe te train 
sar aver manusha ande khera naj autentiko” phenda e Italiako governo. Jekh italijako 
reprezentanto an jekhethaneski-unija phendas po kidipe an Geneva an 1999 bersh 
kaj e Roma si naturalne nomadura save kamen te aven numaj an lenge kampura. 

E deskripcija pala e Roma kaj shaj aven numaj nomadura chi vazdel pe’ opre 
numaj kana karel pe’ lengi segregacija akana e manusha phenen kaj lengo than 
chi trubul te avel ande Italija. Kana vorbil pe’ pala e Roma sar integralno kotor 
an sasti Italijaki rashtra e Italijake manusha sajekh hatjaren jekh baro 
nacionalizmo. Sa so si an relacija pala e Roma von bichalen po jekh than savo 
akharel pe “ofiso pala e nomadurenge butja” thaj oficijelno responsabiliteto pala 
kadale butja si governosko kotor pala e emigracija. O fakto kaj an varesave forura 
vol regionura si specijalne ofisura pala e “Nomadura thaj na-Europake manusha” 
phenel amenge kaj e Roma an Italija si prezentuime sar manusha bi-rashtrako 
saven naj kher thaj save phiren opre-tele. E Roma uzes hatjaren kaj e Italijake 
manusha chi kamen len. 

An 1999 bersh e Jekhethaneske nacije (o komiteto savo kamel te kerel 
eliminacija pala e rasno diskriminacija-CERD) uzes phenda kaj chi kamel godo 




n-i 



111 



Campland: Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 



so e Italija kerel e Romenca. Specijalno o komiteto phenda an realcija pala e teza 
kaj “Roma nashti trajin an normalne khera sar aver manusha numaj an kampura” 
kaj si godo na numaj fizichko sgregacija godo si vi politikaki, ekonomikani thaj 
kulturaki izolacija. O CERD maj dur phendas kaj si “hoji savi si an relacija pala e 
rasno na-tolerancija, kaj si Romengi tradimata savi e policija thaj e sherutne 
institucije varekana chi kamen te dikhen thaj chi kamen te vazden po krisi”, “kaj 
trubun te keren pe’e raportura save vatjaren pala e violencija e policijaki kontra 
e manusha save naj Italijanura thaj save si an phanglipe”, “ kaj si bari na-edukacija 
e manushengi savi keren butji an policija thaj save reprezentuin o zakono ”, O 
komiteto vadzi/inke jekhvar phenda kaj si les bari dar pala o nevo zakono savo o 
Italijako senato oficijelno trubul te vazdel opre. An godo nevo chachipasko 
dokumento e Roma naj akceptuime sar nacionalno minoriteto thaj godo chi ka 
kerel pozitivne efektura te e Roma aven protektuime. An relacija pala kadala 
problemura o Komiteto dija varesave sugestije e Italijake governose sar si : te 
kerel pe’ majbari prevencija te na barol e rasno na-tolerancija thaj e diskriminacija 
kontra e manusha save naj Italijanura thaj save si Roma, te na avel bilacho tretmano 
e Romen save si an phanglipe, te dikhel pe’ maj bari sama pe Roma save trajin/ 
dzivdinen ande Italija te na kerel pe’ diskriminacija kontra lende. Ando nevo 
raporto(pala o CERD) trubun te phenen egzakto sarsavi si e etnikani kompozicija/ 
save nacije sa trajin an Italija, an procentura trubul te phenel pe’ sode manusha 
train an Italija saven si Italijako rashtrako pasporto pal si aver nacijako thaj pe 
aver rig trubul te phenel pe’ sode manusha trajin saven naj Italijake rashtrako 
pasporto, trubul te kerel pe’ implementacija pala o kotor 6. katar e konvencija 
(savi si an relacija pala e manushenge chachipena) thaj trubul te phenen sode 
manushen trade po krisi godolese kaj kerde rasno diskriminacija. Trubul te kerel 
pe’ edukacija pala e manusha/policajcura save prezentuin o zakono te dzanen so 
si godo rasno tolerancija thaj manushengo chachipe; Trubul te kerel pe’ jekh 
komisija savi ka lei sama pala e problemura save si an relacija pala e minoritetura 
thaj e diskriminacija. 

Adjes jekh bersh thaj majbut dekana o CERD dija pire sugestije, kritika, phenda 
so e Italijako governo trubul te kerel varesave bare efektura vadzi nashti dikhen 
pe’. E Italijake manushengo mangipe te traden e Romen andar e Italija si akana 
majbari deso sas. Varesave manusha save keren buti an politika dije piri sugestija 
kaj e policajcura trubun te pushkin pe/ maren andar e pushka pe manusha save 
choral perdal o Adriako baro paji kamen te den an Italija. E Italijake politikake 
manusha oficijelno phende kaj chi kamen e manushen save naj Italijanura sar 
rezultato e Italijanura dije piro politikako glaso vash lenge. E politikake manusha 




112 

112 



Summary in Romani 



save phende kaj naj kontra e Roma achile bi vorbako thaj dikhen kaj e bavlal 
phurdel pe rig kaj si e politikake manusha save si nacionalistura. Aver Europake 
rashtre/phuvja chi dije varesavo zuralo azutipe te phagavel pe' o nacionalizmo 
an Italija. Dzi kaj pe jekh rig e Europa oficijelno phenda kaj chi kamel 
nacionalisturen an Austrija save dije an nacionalno governo pe dujto rig achih 
kashuki po nacionalizmo an Italija. 



ERIC 



113 




Campland: Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy 



-Lhe European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) is an international public interest law 
organisation which monitors the situation of Roma in Europe and provides legal 
defence to victims of human rights violations. Roma (Gypsies) remain to date the 
most deprived ethnic group of Europe. Everywhere, their fundamental rights are 
threatened. Disturbing cases of racist violence targeting Roma have occurred in 
recent years. Discrimination against Roma in employment, education, health care, 
and other fields is common in many societies. Hate speech against Roma deepens 
the negative stereotypes which pervade European public opinion. 

The ERRC is governed by an international board of directors, which is chaired 
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Dimitrina Petrova is Executive Director. The staff includes: Azam Bayburdi 
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Viktoria Mohacsi (Researcher), Tatjana Peric (Researcher/Monitors co-ordinator), 
Branimir Plese (Staff attorney), Veronika Leila Szente (Advocacy director). 



EUROPEAN ROMA RIGHTS CENTE 



H-1386 Budapest 62, P.O. Box 906/93, Hungary 

Telephone: (36-1) 428-2351 
Fax: (36-1) 428-2356 

E-mail addresses: 

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errc@errc.org 

Internet Homepage: http://errc.org 



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Time of the Skinheads: 

Denial and Exclusion of Roma in Slovakia 
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